Andre Tchaikowsky’s opera of The Merchant of Venice was staged for the first time ever at the prestigious Bregenz Opera Festival in Austria in July 2013. In “Journey To Bregenz”, we follow a team of eminent professionals from the opera world as they bring The Merchant of Venice to the stage.
We chart their progress from the moment of the first playthrough to the opening night. We are a fly on the wall in the initial meetings and playthroughs, between a charismatic set of individuals - the artistic director, the director and the designer - as they develop their vision for the piece.
Uninhibited by the large blank stage, the tight deadlines and a challenging budgetary environment, the designer and his team gradually bring all the elements together from the presentation of the stage model, the design, and creation of the costumes to the sourcing and cutting down of the tree that is to be enrobed in silver.
With the cast in place, the director meets with them all, revealing the intricacy of the piece and the decision to set the opera in Edwardian times. Once rehearsals are underway, they explore the motivations of the characters, encapsulating Freudian influences, homosexual love, the role of money in society, prejudice and the depiction of Jews in both the past and the present. As they work on the staging, the cast members playing Portia and Shylock talk about their roles. With the staging mapped out, the cast can now rehearse with a piano accompaniment and we meet the conductor.
A sense of excitement builds among the cast and crew as we approach the final dress rehearsal as we begin to see and hear extracts of the piece with a full orchestra. The director gives his final notes and the premiere is finally upon us. The premiere is deemed a great success by all involved and the opera achieves critical acclaim. The brave decision to stage this previously unknown opera has been vindicated and we have gained a fascinating insight into what went into making it happen.