The opera in Bregenz
At a time when most opera houses and festivals are retrenching financially and artistically, Austria's Bregenz Festival is bucking the trend. The centrepiece of this year's ambitious festival is a thrilling new production of Verdi's Aida on the Lake Stage, which is reported to have cost £10 million. Such a budget can work here, where audiences of 7,000 gather nightly on the corner of Lake Constance, where Austria meets Germany and Switzerland.
Apart from being one of the most spectacular shows I've seen, Graham Vick's production has a probing side too: few opera directors take their social responsibilities more seriously. But then the Bregenz Festival, under the artistic direction of another distinguished Brit, David Pountney, is about much more than mass entertainment.
This summer's programme also features a superlative new staging in the indoor theatre of Szymanowski's King Roger, plus three productions from Opera North, and the non-UK premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's The Corridor.