The Seebühne, Lake Constance, Austria
The Seebühne (or floating stage) is on the shores of Lake Constance along the shore of Bregenz, Austria. This open-air theatre has become famous for its artistic design and grand scale, seating up to 7,000 people. It is used during the Bregenz Festival as one of the locations for large-scale opera and musical performances but is by far the most spectacular of the stages used.
The Bregenz Festival started in 1946 in a town that had no previous notable relationship to the arts. Lake Constance was chosen as the location for this festival due to its dreamy appearance and stunning mountainous backdrop, creating a unique setting. The festival soon grew in popularity, causing the organisers to set up more stages offshore in order to accommodate all the guests. Walter von Hoesslin revolutionised the development of the lake stage in 1955, seeing the natural surroundings as a way to enhance the quality and atmosphere of productions. During the 1960s it was mainly used to accommodate ballet performances. A new stage was developed in the 1970s which provided a more solid foundation and a roof to protect audiences in bad weather.
The Seebühne came into its own in 1985, with a ‘triumphant’ performance of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’. This performances’ success resulted in more construction, allowing the stage to survive the Winter months. In 2008, a performance of Puccini’s Tosca on the Seebühne was featured in the 2008 James Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace’.
The festival still runs now and is held every July and August with a varied programme that features performances from the likes of The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and The Prague Philharmonic Choir. The set designs are known to be extremely ambitious and flamboyant and get more extravagant each year.