Out of Austria's Lake Constance rises a giant head that serves as one of the most creative opera stages in the world. The set, which was originally built by the Bregenz Festival in 1946 for the first Opera on the Lake production, is truly remarkable. It features a statue of a man from the shoulders up who is holding the stage in his left hand. There is also a book on the right shoulder, perhaps indicating the influence of literature and history on opera performances.
There is room for 6,800 spectators on this floating goliath. It is anchored to a fixed concrete base that is attached to the bottom of the lake and the floating stage is almost double the size to ensure that the surrounding water doesn't swallow it up. To add onto the stage, wooden piles are driven into the bottom of the lake to support the extra weight. The sets must also be able to endure through the natural elements; the production run time for a play is around two years.
The opera featured in these stills is from Andre Chenier by Italian composer Umberto Giordano. The story is about a poet during the French Revolution in the 18th century. Chenier is an ardent supporter of the Revolution; however, he is ultimately sentenced to death by guillotine for his involvement. The most interesting part about this tragedy is that it is based on a historical figure who was actually killed in 1789.
While I like the idea of watching an opera on a lake, especially in Austria, this head makes me uncomfortable. I can't exactly explain why; I think it has something to do with the ladder coming out of his left eye and his death like stare. So while I would definitely see a production, I don't think I would ever look at a statue the same way again.