History of the Bregenz Festival Choir
The Bregenz Festival Choir, called „Bregenzer Festspielchor“ was founded in 1948, two years after the „Bregenzer Festspiele“, the Bregenz Festival, came into being. At that time the Festival organizers could not afford to hire a professional choir for the operetta „Eine Nacht in Venedig“. The first chairman of the Bregenz Men Choir Karl Fuchs put together a choir with 35 women and 25 men in order to provide a choir for the Bregenz Festival. Karl Fuchs died in 1950 and Franz Wipper, a general manager by profession, took over the leadership of the choir.
The Bregenz Festival Choir has been in existence since 1948. An official association was established only in 1982 due to the initiative of Franz Wipper. The choir’s constituting first general meeting took place on October 11 during which Wipper was elected as first chairman. In June of 1983 the association badge designed by Helmut Kostka was presented to the members of the choir.
The choir grew with its challenges being asked to sing in Bregenz Festival orchestra concerts such as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony conducted by Ferdinand Leitner in 1954. Since 1955 the choir has been asked to take part in operas and operettasin the „Kornmarkt Theater“. In 1964 for the Lehar-Operetta „Land des Lächelns“ the choir had 151 singers which is the largest it has ever been. Starting in 1973 operas were performed on the Bregenz lake stage. Since 1980 the Bregenz Festival Choir sings on the lake stage with select members also being asked to sing in operas in the „Festspielhaus“, the concert hall of the Bregenz Festival.
The choir preparations for the Bregenz Festival typically begin in the fall of the previous year. Following the lead of the artistic director the executive board has the task to put together a choir for the play on the lake or the house and to look after this group. At times, rehearsals can start already in January or February, perhaps even once a week. The stage rehearsals typically begin in June. The Bregenz Festival Choir is usually lead by a local choir director. Once the stage rehearsals begin, the choir is frequently combined with the indoor choir from Vienna, Sofia, Moscow and meanwhile Prague.
In the past the Bregenz Festival Choir was made up exclusively from people living in Bregenz. Over the years more and more singers from surrounding regions also from Switzerland and Germany have joined the choir. Starting in 1973 the choir was complemented by singers from the Vienna State Opera for several years. In the meantime the choir has members from all over the world.