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July 20 2019
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Austria’s Bregenz Festival, on through August 18, features Verdi’s Rigoletto on the lake.

For drop-dead operatic dazzle on a colossal scale, the Bregenz Festival’s floating stage at the Austrian end of Lake Constance takes a back seat to no showcase on earth, not even the fabled Verona Arena. Conventional scenic design is useless here. The action is far away. Nuance is a lost cause. What’s needed is an extravagant visual metaphor that distills the essence of the classic at hand. Engineered like spaceships, each show takes months to build and runs for two seasons, to almost invariably sold-out houses. The new attraction this year is Rigoletto, Verdi’s twisty tragedy of a court jester’s revenge. —Matthew Gurewitsch

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