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Summer is full of festivals. They’re everywhere. Ev-er-y-where.

Let’s take a look at one of the big ones that begins later this month.

Sydney Harbour: Madame Butterfly

Sydney Harbour: Madame Butterfly

By big, I mean gigante. Huge. Titanic. That’s the Bregenz Festival in Austria. The festival starts on July 23rd and runs through the end of August.

Bregenz is world renown for their “lake productions” which are presented on a lake. Go figure. This year’s production is Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Check out the picture.

These lake productions combine opera with Disney’s Fantasmic and perhaps some Cirque de Soleil thrown in to make sure the masses enjoy it. Come to think of it, this is exactly what an opera would look like if Disney and Cirque de Soleil joined forces to produce opera.

Disney and Cirque de Soleil? Are there any two more faux-arts institutions in the world? No, no I won’t go off on a tangent about Disney blah, blah, blah — I’m just sayin’.

This type of production rubs me the wrong way because it’s all about the production.

I’m also not going to rant about the music being the primary mover even though it should be. In these productions, music appears to be in fourth place behind the set, the choreography, and the costumes — I’m just sayin’.

It’s fine. It’s fine. Bregenz is putting on one hell of a mighty show but let’s be clear. This is first and foremost a show and then there’s some opera music that accompanies it.

Bregenz: A Masked Ball

Bregenz: A Masked Ball

I must admit that some of the productions make sense. The Masked Ball set is a huge skeleton holding a book with a dance of death printed on it. I love it.

In Andrea Chenier two thirds of the enormous set is Chenier’s head which is removed at the end of the opera. That’s good stuff, even if it isn’t subtle.

Bregenz: Magic Flute

Bregenz: Magic Flute

Sydney Australia has taken a similar waterfront approach to opera with their most recent production being Madama Butterfly. As you can see from the picture, there are fireworks at Butterfly’s wedding ceremony. It kind of fits since Puccini uses the American National Anthem as a theme for Pinkerton in the previous scene. But, you know, fireworks?

Despite my considerable carping on the issue, I wouldn’t mind seeing San Diego put on a waterfront opera production.

I’m guessing it would have to be a multiple draw event. Maybe something in combination with a cuisine event. People never get tired of eating. With an opera such as La Traviata an event could include Parisian Cuisine, Rural French Cuisine, and Northern Italian Cuisine — for Verdi.

Turandot could feature Chinese, Russian, and Italian.

Please indulge me as I spit ball a little bit here.

Lakme would be nice with some Indian Cuisine for the setting and French for the composer.

I'm not so sure about Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring. I can't say I've ever tried Herring so maybe I wrong to be concerned.

There has been some collaboration between The Symphony Pops and Comic-Con. Perhaps a production of superhero themed Flying Dutchman is in order.

I think the Dutchman is a good Comic-Con type. He’s a doomed outcast who can’t find a woman to love him, that sounds like certain elements of Comic-Con to me.

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eastlaker July 20, 2014 @ 9:31 p.m.

Wouldn't it be great to have an operatic event at the water's edge here in San Diego--such as where the symphony holds their summer pops concerts?

Even if it were to be a variation, such as a recital, or a lightly-staged work, it would be a great way to introduce more people to opera.

Opera + food trucks + bayside = happy San Diegans?

Fireworks are optional, as far as I am concerned!

P.S. I have wanted to attend something at that venue in Bregenz for quite some time.


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