Bregenz on Lake Constance is a mecca for leading-edge design and not surprisingly, home to a magnanimous opera stage that spawns from the lake every two years. This season’s set was imagined by British artist Es Devlin, who has designed sets for Adele, U2, and Kanye West. A giant pair of tattooed female hands with red nails brandishing a cigarette and deck of cards. Quite the backdrop on the Austrian side of the lake.
Following 70 years of operatic tradition, this year’s tear-jerker is the liebesdrama Carmen, Georges Bizet’s 19th-century masterpiece. No other performance could possibly electrify the Austrian night like an Andalusian fiesta of unrequited love, uncontrollable passion and tragic destiny.
The fun starts before the performers take center on the world’s largest floating stage.
What better way to get into the festspiel mood than a sunset dinner cruise on the royal steamship “Hohentwiel” around Lake Constance. It’s all aboard…for chilled Bodensee rosé and the kiss of alpenglow. Dinner is a whimsical Spanish-inspired, four-course affair in the art nouveau dining salon.
The dinner cruise sets sail from Bregenz at 6:00 pm headed west to pick up opera fans in Germany and Switzerland before heading back to the Austrian side of the lake for the evening performance.
The luxury paddle steamer ‘Hohentwiel” was christened in 1913 and hosted many dignitaries and heads of state. This floating stage is still turning heads when she makes port calls in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. The Queen of Lake Constance bedazzles her passengers with white awnings, sparkling brass and exotic polished wood accents, a proud tribute to the belle époque. Her name might twist your tongue, but just know the “Hohentwiel” is the eponymous medieval fortress built atop an ancient volcano at the Lake’s western shore.
Recalling the steamship’s glorious golden age, maybe you’ll sit at the same table where Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin and the King of Saxony dined. Joining you on this cruise is an English-speaking opera connoisseur for an exclusive introduction to Carmen. The ship’s private docking slip near the stage makes for an easy few steps to the best seats under the stars.