Two years ago, when Bowser was still some weird thing moving around in Anna’s belly, we went to the Bregenzer Festspiele to see an opera on the water. Now that Bowser is some weird thing moving around outside Anna’s belly and Dr. Watson took his place inside, we went there again. We left Bowser at his uncles and took Watson with us. That’s the benefit of still living in your mother’s womb: you can come along late at night when human beings are going out, doing grown-up stuff. Sorry, Bowser. You can join us again in a few years, when you’re a human being too.
Every summer Bregenz – the capital city of Vorarlberg – hosts a big cultural event, called the Bregenzer Festspiele. The absolute highlight of this performing arts festival is the so-called Seebühne: a floating stage on the shores of Lake Constance, where famous operas are being performed. Two years ago we went to see Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. I didn’t understand much of the German songs, but it was very spectacular nonetheless. Bowser also enjoyed it: he couldn’t stop dancing in Anna’s belly. This year’s performance is Puccini’s opera Turandot. We went there last Friday night.
I don’t think Watson liked it very much. At least she wasn’t dancing around and kicking into Anna’s organs like Bowser was doing two years ago. And I have to say: I wasn’t that impressed with the storyline either. It’s about a Chinese princess called Turandot. There’s nothing in the world that gives her more pleasure than beheading guys who want to marry her. Every time someone falls in love with her, she asks him to solve three riddles. She will marry him when he solves them all. If he fails to solve them however, his head will be chopped off. Dozens of hopelessly in love men lose their heads this way.
Now, at one point there is this clever guy who miraculously solves all three riddles. Marriage and end of the story, you would think. But no. Turandot now all of a sudden gets super dramatic about the whole thing and says she doesn’t want to marry him. She doesn’t even know him, so how could she love him? She just wants to cut off his head. People don’t think that’s fair, but Turandot starts crying, whining and screaming. She feels very sorry for herself.
“Okay,” the guy says after a while, “if you can guess my name you’ll have my head. Otherwise you will marry me, as promised.”
Turandot doesn’t know his name and starts panicking. How could she find out? She continues whining.
It goes on like this for a bit, but I don’t want to spoil it completely for the ones who now became very interested in this opera. So I won’t tell you how it ends. But it does end, eventually, after some more drama, singing, dancing, a suicide and cool special effects.
The story is – in my opinion – a bit weak, but the performance is quite impressive and the stage – including the Great Wall of China, a rotating platform and a Terracotta Army – looks very spectacular. And even though the weather was awful (we had to sit in the pouring rain for two hours), it was an entertaining evening. I’m glad we were there.
Our friends Kathrin and Daniel went with us to the opera and joined us again the next day when we went for a hike near Bregenz on the Pfänder. The Pfänder is something we would in the Netherlands definitely call a mountain, but in Austria it’s just a small bump in the mountainous landscape. More about that trip in our next blog entry…