andré chénier opera on the lake at bregenz
andré chénier opera on the lake at bregenz andré chénier opera on the lake at bregenz
aug 11, 2011

andré chénier opera on the lake at bregenz

the floating set designed by david fielding for the bregenz opera festival lakefront performance of umberto giordano’s ‘andré chénier’ image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

under the artistic direction of david pountney, stage designer david fielding brings the opera ‘andré chénier’ to life for the ‘opera on the lake’ floating stage (‘seebühne’) of the 2011 bregenz opera festival in bregenz, austria.

the waterproofed set is built directly into lake constance, mounted upon a concrete core anchored into the base of the lake, while wooden poles support accessory structures of the stage. fielding’s design for ‘andré chénier’ is dominated by an oversized face and torso– modeled after the revolutionary jean-paul marat– from whose left eye streams a series of stairways. an open book to stage right of the figure is frequently highlighted throughout the performance with special lighting effects, ranging from sculptural installations to elaborate gobos that cast shadow scenes along its pages. at water level, a floating platform, ‘carried’ by what appears to be the hand of the statue, moves in response to plot action. other mobile set pieces rise in and out of the water over the course of the performance.

written by italian composer umberto giordano, the opera retells a story of love and death during the french revolution. the bregenz festival performances of the show run through august 21st, 2011, with additional performances in the summer of 2012. the proscenium theatre of the seebühne stage seats 6,800 persons in stadium seating.

more info on the festival website

the set, with the face of revolutionary jean-paul marat swung back to reveal an interior set image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

detail view image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

an oversized book to stage right is the site of performance and unusual lighting image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

full view of the stage on lake constance in bregenz, austria image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

a choreographed performance atop the statue’s head image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

view of stage base, during a rehearsal image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

performance view image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

set, light, sculpture, and shadow work together image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

the stage by night, lit in colours reminiscent of the french flag image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

additional view image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

additional view image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

a performer rappels between parts of the set image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

an oversized oval frame provides a site for acrobatic performance during the opera image © bregenzer festspiele / karl forster

director: keith warner set design: david fielding lighting design: davy cunningham costume design: constance hoffman choreography: lynne page sound design: wolfgang fritz

featuring conductors ulf schirmer, luke vasilek, and benjamin paint with the wiener symphoniker, prague philharmonic choir, and bregenz festival choir respectively.

3D computer rendering of the structural framework of the set image © bregenz festival / simon wimmer

3D rendering of set image © bregenz festival / simon wimmer

constructing the figure of jean-paul marat image © bregenz festival / dietmar mathis

full aerial view of the theatre during construction of the set image © bregenz festival / dietmar mathis

  • cool!

    Darija S.H. says:
  • Woooow what a masterpiece. Best stage design I’ve ever seen.

    preview says:
  • Wonderful!!!… remember me when I was at Teatro alla Scala in Milano…

    Dario says:
  • horror……… i dislike it!

    Ar, Arefin says:
  • Awesome!.
    I see there influences between Dali and Hieronymus Bosch.

    Turriano says:
  • Absolutely breathtaking; how I would love to experience this performance!

    elf says:
  • well well, isn’t that profound – just say “horror… I dislike it”

    how about saying why?

    perhaps because as per the design, it’s a tad too challenging for you?

    meagain says:
  • great work……… poetic’s of space…….

    nomadarchitect says:
  • Completely crazy !!

    Bull says:
  • This is just fantastic!I’m bowled over!
    May I ask, Where is the audience and Site lines appropriate?
    No Matter… a revelation of engineeering and art.
    …And the Budget! Oh Yeah!

    Luke says:
  • While I love the look and the concept, as a former opera singer, I can’t help but cringe thinking about singing with one of those harnesses cutting in. Eep! Brave performers!

    Delvecem says:
  • Wow, this is good. Romantic, a man floating on water with eyes to the sky daydreaming the events depicted by the performers inside and around him. Fun, profound, this is what is art about…

    Miloš Dačić says:
  • Hello, this is not just any man daydreaming, this is Marat just being killed in his own bath tube during the French Revolution! His knife wound cut is still can be seen on his right chest.

    faustina Lin says:
  • Planet of the apes, much?
    No really I love it, but you can see the resemblence!

    mawdster says:
  • I thought also at the budget! But any opera set is expensive. In this set there is a good combination of technology and art.

    Dario says:
  • Magic d;-)

    Jetwax says:
  • @luke You can see the seats of the audience in the picture before the last. The stage design before appeared in a James Bond movie, maybe you remember it.

    olteq says:
  • wow! great work!

    godo says:
  • I am impressed !

    Sarita Rahman says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

art news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
492,661 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample