* Berlin has more bridges than Venice/Italy - between 1400 and 1700, depending on who you ask (Venice only has 409). There are over 180 km of navigable waterways.
* Berlin is the only city in the world with 3 active opera houses: the Staatsoper, the Deutsche Oper, and the Komische Oper. Opera lovers are treated to events with many of the world’s best singers, conductors, and musicians taking to the stage. If you’re under the age of 30, try the evening box office where you can pick up any unsold tickets for around 10€!
* Parks, lakes, and forests comprise around 1/3 of Berlin’s total area, so many “nature” activities such as kayaking, cycling, and hiking can be done within the urban area.
* Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten’s zoo and aquarium gets about 3 million visitors a year. It’s considered to be the most visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular worldwide. Regular animal feedings are among its attractions. There are 19,000 animals of 1,500 different species. The zoo collaborates with universities, research institutes, and zoos around the world. It maintains and promotes breeding programs, helps safeguard endangered species, and participates in species reintroduction programs.
* Berlin is also home to the largest department store in continental Europe. The Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) has over 60,000 sqm of display space on 8 floors. If you like gourmet foods, visit the 6th and 7th floor - they’re entirely devoted to food, adding up to the size of 2 football fields. The 6th floor “Delicatessen” is famous for its wide variety of foods and beverages. There are 110 cooks and 40 bakers and confectioners supplying 30 gourmet counters. The 7th floor includes a winter garden with a 1000-seat restaurant surrounded by an all-windowed wall offering a view over the Wittenbergplatz.
* The Berlin Wall (1961-1989) was 155 km long; it was guarded by 302 manned watchtowers. In the communist/socialist East, it was named ‘Antifaschistischer Schutzwall’ (anti-fascist protection wall), implying that it was erected to protect the East Germans against capitalist West Germany. In reality, its purpose was to stop the flood of East Germans trying to escape to the West by locking them in as prescribed by the Russian/USSR communist occupiers. Prior to 1961, 3.5 million East Germans had left, totaling about 20% of the population.
* Today, about 30% of Berlin’s population of 3 million have some kind of migrant background. About 13% are foreign nationals. As the capital, Berlin has a long history of migration, going back to 1685 when the city welcomed many protestant refugees from France, known as Huguenots. The Neukölln district has one of the largest Turkish communities in Germany.
André Chénier, the most famous work by the Italian composer Umberto Giordano, is brought to life for the ‘Opera on the Lake’ floating stage of the 2011 Bregenz Opera Festival in Bregenz, Austria by stage designer David Fielding under the artistic direction of David Pountney. The brilliantly vivid historical drama and human tragedy of shattering intensity is presented on the waterproofed set built directly into lake constance. It is then mounted upon a concrete core anchored into the base of the lake, while wooden poles support accessory structures of the stage.
The Spectacular ‘Opera on the Lake’ Stages of Bregenz
Since 1946, the Bregenz Festival ‘Opera on the Lake’ in Austria has been home to some of the most incredible outdoor stages ever built. Set on the gorgeous Lake Constance, the 6,800 capacity ‘Seebuhne’ Stage has been the setting for some of the world’s most famous operas.
During the 2007 performance of Tosca, the producer and director for the James Bond film Quantum of Solace were so impressed, they filmed a 10-day scene in Bregenz where Bond meets his adversary for the first time during a performance ofTosca.
Below you will find a collection of the amazing outdoor stages throughout the history of the Bregenz Festival, along with a detailed timeline of key milestones and events and information on the challenges of building an outdoor stage on the water.
Floating above the water on Austria’s Lake Constance is one of the most impressive opera sets ever designed. The Bregenz Festival has been creating these sets since 1946 for its trademark Opera on the Lake production, which has a 6,800 seating capacity.
The magnificent set featured here is from André Chénier, the most famous work by the Italian composer Umberto Giordano. Set against the background of the French Revolution in 1789, the opera is a passionate love story and historical thriller based on the life of a real historical character - a French poet who got caught up in the turmoil of the French Revolution, first as an ardent supporter and then as a victim, mercilessly persecuted and ultimately sent to the guillotine.
The opera stages are built on a fixed “concrete core” that is anchored in the lake. The floating stage must be two-thirds larger than normal so it doesn’t get swallowed up by its natural surroundings. Wooden piles are driven into the bed of the lake to support any additional structures the stage set may require, and everything must be waterproof to withstand the extreme weather during the two-year production runs.
In A Different Life… Princess Leia Amidala attenters a performance of Squid Lake at the Galaxies Opera House Naeem Khan, Pre Fall 2015
In a galaxy far, far away but in a different life… Leia Amidala is Heiress of the Imperial Throne, learning the fine art of politics and how to rule in the heart of the Empire from Emperor Palpatine and her mother, while her brother is trained in the ways of the Dark Side of the Force as well military tactics and strategies. Until then she makes appearances often accompanying the emperor when he visits his people.
It’s opening night of Swan Lake at the Boston Opera House tonight at 7:30. I will be dancing Odette/Odile with Gonzalo Garcia @gonzalogarcia79 from New York City Ballet!
Photo @lizavoll #ballet #swanlake #blackswan @bostonballet (at Boston Opera House)