Opening of the 75th Bregenz Festival

More+Events ♦ Published: July 22, 2021; 14:05 ♦ (Vindobona)

After being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 75th anniversary of the Bregenz Festival is finally happening. President Alexander Van der Bellen gave a passionate address about climate change and other issues at the opening of the festival.

"What worries me most is the climate crisis, which we are slipping deeper and deeper into." - Alexander Van der Bellen during his address at the opening of the 75th Bregenz Festival / Picture: © / Peter Lechner / HBF

The Bregenz Festival is a cultural festival that takes place every year in July and August in the Vorarlberg state capital of Bregenz.

The main attraction for numerous visitors on the world's largest lake stage is the performance on Lake Constance.

The festival is known for the beauty of the natural scenery of Lake Constance, oversized stage sets, technical cabinet pieces and unique acoustics created by the Bregenz directional hearing technique.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was canceled in 2020, but this year the festival has returned for the 75th time. Thanks to vaccines and testing, thousands of visitors will be able to attend the festival as long as they comply with the “3-G Rules.”

President Van der Bellen

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen gave an address at the opening of the festival in which he addressed the treatment of women in Austria, the recent political turmoil and the climate crisis.

Regarding the treatment of women during the pandemic, Van der Bellen said, “The pandemic has devastated many women, how quickly it can be that a society in crisis mode is falling back into old gender roles! Care work and homeschooling mainly remained with women. We shouldn't accept that any longer.”

Without specifically naming anyone, the President briefly criticized the current state of Austrian politics, “And when you talk to people, I have to say it as clearly as I have heard it because you don't just hear once that people have had enough of how disrespectful some politicians are with the institutions of our state. The way our constitution was handled last year was anything but elegant.”

As for the climate crisis, Van der Bellen emphatically stressed the severity of the situation, “But what worries me most is the climate crisis, which we are slipping deeper and deeper into. I hear from farmers whose plants are drying up. Their livelihoods are massively threatened. And that is not just their livelihood, it is the basis of all of us. People are massively worried when a tornado devastates the landscape on our border. A tornado! In the middle of Europe. People ask me whether we can have a heatwave of up to 50 degrees in Bregenz as we did recently in Canada. And we all have the numerous pictures of the terrible floods in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in mind. With many dead, destroyed houses and people who have lost all their belongings.”

While he told the crowd that they should be worried, he also provided optimism in the form of Austria’s history of overcoming crises. He also cited the science behind the COVID vaccines as proof that humanity can overcome great challenges.

The President ended by celebrating the 75th birthday of the Bregenz Festival, thanking those that make the festival possible, and encouraging everyone to enjoy the next few weeks of art.

Shared anniversary with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra

The 75th anniversary of the Bregenz Festival happens to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra who participates in the festival each year. They held a joint ceremony to celebrate together.

At the event, Vienna's City Councilor for Culture Veronica Kaup-Hasler congratulated them, “It is always a great pleasure to experience the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, otherwise so powerfully at the pulse of the city of Vienna, unfolding its musical strength in the Festival Hall and on the lake stage in Bregenz. This year, in the year of the anniversary, more than ever. As musical ambassadors of Vienna, the city of music, the orchestra spends a month and a half each summer in Bregenz. It is a time of mutual impulses and inspirations, artistic encounters and highlights. I congratulate you on the long-cultivated tradition and wish an equally long and bright future.”

The director of the Symphony Orchestra, Jan Nast, also commented on this tradition, “The cooperation between the Festival and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra looks back on a long tradition. The spectacular productions on the lake stage and the ambitious program in the Festival Hall show the diversity of the Festival and the orchestra. For the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Bregenz has become a second home. The people of Vorarlberg and the many classical music visitors from all over the world create an inspiring, international atmosphere in which we feel very much at home.”

The Bregenz Festival lasts from 21 July until 22 August 2021.

Federal President of Austria

City of Vienna