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Two summers of singing Queen of the Night on the famed floating stage on the lake in Bregenz, Austria have come to an end! Hard to believe. This was actually only the second freelance contract I secured while still singing on scholarship at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Germany, 2 seasons ago, and now that I’m on the other side of an experience I could hardly fathom when it was offered to me in all it’s glory, it’s truly crazy to me that it’s over now and the memories are all I will take with me. The lake stage is an incredible venue where so many impressive aspects of the productions mounted upon it are impossible anywhere else.
People from all over Europe flock to see these productions. Over the last two summers, 399,000 people have seen this production alone… not even joking about that number. 28 performances the first summer, and 29 the second. Stadium outdoor seating for no less than 7000 people and it was literally SOLD OUT every night. And I don’t mean ‘literally’ like how we all use that word these days… I mean LITERALLY. My parents came to Austria and couldn’t even get tickets for all the shows they wanted to go to.
This is a stage of stunts. Stunt people flying through the air, hanging from every inch of the set from wires like spiders, stunt people walking on bridges hundreds of feet above the lake literally (again, I use that word literally) engulfed in flames, some diving or “falling” into the lake, and (most impressively) simply walking slowly into the lake and disappearing step by step (this actually drew gasps from the audience on a nightly basis…)
Here are a few production photos:
Act I – Queen of the Night’s aria “O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn…”
Look carefully at the photo above and you can see that I am tethered to the set. I wore a harness under my costume and at all times that I appear on the stage, I am attached to it in some way or another.
Here’s a rehearsal photo, so you can get an idea of the harness around my waist (and also I think this brings into sharp reality how much of “me” in the other photos is actually all costume…) That costume was epic, from the headpiece that was as heavy as lead, to the full sequin skirt and hard plastic shining breast plate… (and below you’ll see my LED light extension skirt!)
Act II Queen of the Night’s aria “Der Hölle Rache”…
Yup… crazy times….
I also did a couple other operas in Bregenz this summer…. Stravinky’s Rossignol (in which I sang the title role) where all the other roles were performed by puppets (the singers were on the sides of the stage). Very interesting experience interacting with puppets on stage- and the Blind Summit Puppeteers were simply amazing to work with. They are of “one mind” on the stage and it was just incredible to see them work together- and to be a part of it. The pictures don’t do this production justice, but nevertheless, here are a few…. The production was in the “cubist” style- which meant also that the lighting was very edgy… made for an AMAZING look on stage and really brought the puppets into focus- but also meant not a whole lot of great lighting for picture taking. Alright!
A little back-stage selfie action!
And the other opera (that was the second half of a double bill which started with the Stravinsky) was the stage premiere of funny little opera called “L’Hirondelle Inattendue” by Simon Laks, about a bird that is not actually a bird, but a girl, and is not really a girl but actually turns out to be a love song. A pilot and a journalist crash land their rocket on a strange far away place where they are greeted by Noah’s Dove (that’s me) and I explain to them that they have arrived at a magical paradise where all the famous animals of history and fable reside. The bird/girl/song of which I describe arrives shortly after the pilot and the journalist, and we are all greatly perplexed and there is a lot of commotion. After 40 minutes of complete chaos and a whole lot of high notes, the bird/girl/song disappears and we all figure out, with the help of the wise journalist, that she is actually a “love song” who belongs neither to the paradise of humans or of animals, but to all of us.
Here we are in all our green and golden glory:
The radiant Denise Beck with her music box, as the bird/girl/song!
And of course, a couple backstage shots:
And now… these big puppies are being dismantled! Making room for the new set in Bregenz on the floating stage!
As I near the end of my 5 weeks in Tasmania, Australia, I realize it’s been occurring to me more and more that I should really be documenting my travels, at least in an informal way like a blog. But I’m a very focused person, and a travel blog in and of itself has not and probably will not hold my interest enough to write on a weekly basis. So, I’ve decided to start a blog about my passions. Caution: This is an experiment – I have no idea what my posts will be about! I expect some will be about performing on the world’s opera stages. Others will be about my challenges and triumphs to eat healthfully while traveling the world (many temptations). I suspect some posts will truly look like something out of a travel blog, full of pictures from the edges of the earth…. and maybe a few paleo/primal recipes thrown in here and there. I look forward to discovering the shape these pages take.
For now, here is a picture I took yesterday from the summit of Mt. Wellington in Tasmania, Australia, overlooking the city of Hobart and the River Derwent, which leads to the Tasman Sea, and beyond (if you swim for a while), Antarctica.