Moses causes darkness to envelop Egypt in order to finally bring about the Israelites‘ release from captivity. The Pharaoh eventually relents and proclaims they will be set free. His son, however, doesn‘t want to lose a Hebrew girl he is secretly in love with and so he incites a key mover to make the Pharaoh change his mind. The plan works, and the Israelites can do nothing but bewail their hopeless situation. Moses then prays to his God for a more brutal kind of help.
By choosing an Old Testament subject, Gioachino Rossini was able to get round the ban on staging operas during Lent. None the less, Moses in Egypt (Mosè in Egitto) contains all the ingredients of grand opera, mainly thanks to the concealed love story concerning the heir to the Egyptian throne. Today the moving prayer- aria of the Israelites in captivity remains the best known piece from the opera.
For this rarely staged opera, a unique production concept has been devised by the Dutch director Lotte de Beer. She has teamed up with the theatre group Hotel Modern – which conjures up its own reality using filmed objects and miniature puppets – to present the biblical tale of plagues and the parting of the Red Sea on the Bregenz stage. Hotel Modern‘s deeply moving productions like The Great War and Kamp have been seen all round the world. Herman Helle is himself surprised every time by the way his group works: "You build something with your hands in front of the camera and watch the process of creation. We‘ve found out that very realistic scenes can be produced by simple means." Rossini‘s stirring score will be conducted by Enrique Mazzola, an Italian born in Spain, while Christof Hetzer, who designed the sets for Stefan Herheim‘s production of The Tales of Hoffmann last year, will be making a return visit to Bregenz.