Thursday, August 18, 2016

Top 4 Most Impressive Sets

Whether they're realistic or fanciful, literal or abstract, naturalistic or architectural, sets are an important element in creating the world of a particular opera. Here are just a few of our favorite scenic designs from recent productions:

#1: Natural beauty in the Ring

Top Photo © Elise Bakketun | Left Photo © Elise Bakketun | Right Photo © Alan Abastro
Sometimes referred to as the "green Ring," our 2013 production of Wagner's epic 4-opera cycle was so detailed in its portrayal of nature that audiences could be forgiven for thinking Seattle Opera had literally transplanted a forest onto the stage. The enormous scale and lifelike beauty of these sets, designed by Thomas Lynch and built by the world-class artisans in Seattle Opera's own scene shop, kept opera-goers enthralled and talking about their Ring experience for years to come. Hear more from technical director Robert Schaub about the years of work that culminated in these amazing sets:
Discover the inspiration, engineering challenges, and artistic skill behind the sets of Seattle Opera's most recent Ring Cycle.

#2: Mythology-inspired fantasy in Semele

Top image © Elise Bakketun | Bottom Images © Philip Newton
Handel's oratorio Semele received the full-on opera treatment at its Seattle Opera premiere in 2015. Director Tomer Zvulun, set designer Erhard Rom, and costume designer Vita Tzykun collaborated to highlight the contrast between the dull, harsh, angular mortal world of the human Princess Semele and the lush, sweeping, all-encompassing realm of the gods (pictured above) to which she is transported by her lover, Jupiter. The larger-than-life sets and spectacular projections conveyed the otherworldly "endless pleasure, endless love" Semele experiences on Mount Olympus.

#3: Whimsical color in Count Ory

Top image © Philip Newton | Bottom Images © Jacob Lucas
This less famous but equally hilarious opera by Rossini, composer of The Barber of Seville, is so outrageous that it invites an equally over-the-top set—a challenge this production's designer, Dan Potra, gleefully accepted. The goofy plot in a medieval French setting reminded Potra and director Lindy Hume of Monty Python and the 1970s. So this creative duo dreamed up a cartoonish set with an Austin Powers-esque hermitage for a fake 'love guru,' anatomically-inspired hills, and a three-story tower that can accommodate the nonstop antics of Count Ory and his entourage in the wine cellar, the chapel, and even the bedroom!

#4: M.C. Escher-esque architecture in Lucia di Lammermoor

© Rozarii Lynch
Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor is a mainstay of dramatic opera that packs a ghost story, star-crossed love, insanity (and an insanely difficult aria to convey the title character's madness), and murder all into one thrilling performance. Seattle Opera's 2010 production combined a staircase-based set designed by Robert A. Dahlstrom with period costumes by Deborah Trout for a visual effect that contrasted the Lucia's seemingly opulent life at Lammermoor Castle with the twisted, restrictive nature of her society, the futility of her attempts at happiness, and the inevitability of her story's tragic ending.


Ready to experience a night of spectacular sets and epic music for yourself? Explore our 2016/17 season to choose from over-the-top comedy, passion-fueled tragedy, colorful fantasy, and more.

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