Avenches fends off rain with undercover solution
Following a rainy summer season, the open-air opera festival in the roman amphitheatre of Avenches will in future decamp to a different location in times of inclement weather, the Avenches Opera foundation announced on Thursday.
Next year, should rain threaten to disrupt performances in the July festival, they will instead be held in the nearby National Equestrian Institute of Avenches (IENA) which will be fitted out to accommodate the 4,000 spectators a night who attend the festival.
Speaking to news agency ATS, president of the festival foundation Léo Obertüfer said: “Another year like 2014 and it’s the end for l’Opéra d’Avenches.”
“We have therefore sought a solution to guarantee the festival, even if it rains.”
Bad weather at last July’s festival resulted in 6,000 fewer spectators attending than usual, representing losses of 350,000 francs, said organizers.
They were also forced to cancel two shows, including the premiere performance, due to storms.
“We have insurance, of course, but that doesn’t reimburse all the costs,” the president told ATS, adding that the solution offered by IENA means they will no longer have to insure the festival against bad weather.
The alternative venue does not rule out the touted suggestion to construct some form of roof over the Avenches amphitheatre in the future, said Obertüfer.
“That’s not an abandoned project. But we must find the money for a more detailed study and we can’t wait for that,” he said.
Last year a professor at Lausanne’s EPFL proposed an idea for an ultra-light roof of 80m diameter which could be suspended above the amphitheatre, protecting a 5,000m2 area from rain.
The structure would be made partly from carbon and would comprise inflatable segments, reported newspaper 24 Heures at the time.
But, said the paper, the project required a feasibility study costing between 500,000-700,000 francs.
Such a move would follow the example of another festival, Nyon’s Luna Classics, which is held under an inflated white dome in August.
The Avenches Opera Festival will next year present Rossini’s Il Babiere di Siviglia for six performances from July 4th to 17th.
The Avenches amphitheatre also hosts several other festivals, including Rock Oz’Arènes in August and Avenches Tattoo in September.