Photo Gallery: The Opera World’s Craziest Stages

When the idea for the first Bregenz Festival was tossed around almost seventy years ago, the Austrian city didn’t have the funds to build an opera house, so they constructed a makeshift stage against the city’s most beautiful natural setting — Lake Constance. The idea seemed wildly eccentric at the time, but the ingenuity paid off, and European audiences flocked to the floating stage each summer for the annual performances. This year the opera festival returns on July 20th with what promises to be a spectacular production of André Cheniér by Italian composer Umberto Giordano.

With just over three months left before opening night, preparations are well underway to construct yet another elaborate set on Lake Constance, including a 50-foot head that was attached to a floating body by a crane. Click through for a better look at the work-in-progress and to take a photo tour of past festival stages of note.

The stage setting for Andre Chenier. [Image via WSJ]