Much Ado 1

This is a lovely production – Ralph Funicello’s handsome black, filigree set and easily the best Beatrice and Benedick I’ve ever seen (Georgia Hatzis and Jonno Roberts. They must get heartily fed up with the prefix “married couple …etc”), but to have a real, passionate relationship at the heart of this play makes the most extraordinary difference.

Ron wanted to set Much Ado in a period where the gender differences were at their most extreme, I felt that crinolines had been somewhat over-done, and were a bit boring, so rather than use the 1850s we decided to go for the less explored 1830s. The clothes are exceptionally pretty for the women, and the soldiers uniforms are seriously glamorous.

San Diego 2011

So I am back at The Old Globe designing the 3 plays of the 2011 season with Adrian Noble and Ron Daniels. The plays are The Tempest and Amadeus directed by Adrian and Much Ado About Nothing directed by Ron. Last week we did the technical rehearsals and 1st preview for Much Ado very successfully, and we are currently on the 3rd tech day of the Tempest. It has/is being very interesting to do 3 such different plays, not just different, but whole different approaches to the theatre.

Much Ado is, I suppose, a fairly conventional approach involving realistic, almost Chekovian 1830s costumes, lovely to do and very smart/pretty they look.

Amadeus is all about real people seen through the warped memory of Salieri himself, and involved a spin on accurate period fashion. Fun to draw, of course.

The Tempest is far more abstract – improvised almost – with much input from the actors in places

Almost the only ‘concept’ I had firmly in place for this were the Goddess puppets that Adrian wanted, which we decided to base on the Japanese Banruku tradition, and ideas for Ariel, particularly his Harpy wings.

Credits etc from Die Tote Stadt

This is the cast list and credits for the production, and an intro from Giordano, the director of the Jyske Opera.

After the successful Danish premiere of Puccini’s La fanciulla del West (August 2009), The Danish National Opera once again presents, in August 2010, a masterpiece from the great opera repertoire that people have not previously been able to experience in Denmark: Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Die tote Stadt. With its extremely expressive style the opera is a milestone in the late-romantic German opera repertoire after Wagner and Strauss. The music as well as the dramaturgy point towards the great epic movies which became the popular art form of the 20th century.

“Die tote Stadt is about the loneliness of deep sorrow, about the dark side of life when we are struck by an existential crisis where the meaning of life and death itself fills and tortures our soul. Never has this theme been more present or relevant than in our seeming welfare society”, Artistic Director Giordano Bellincampi states. Hallucinations, thrills and reality get tangled up in this surreal drama of one of the 20th century’s most breathtaking operas. “With its intense, psychological plot and ingenious music Die tote Stadt is a performance worth experiencing”,

Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Paul Schott (Erich Wolfgang & Julius Korngold, [Erich’s papa])

Jaroslav Kyzlink

Director and stage designer
Mikael Melbye

Projection designer
Wendall Harrington

Lighting designer
Anja Myung Hansen

Costume designer
Deirdre Clancy

Marie Brolin-Tani


Torsten Kerl

Marietta, dancer / Marie’s revelation
Ann Petersen

Frank, Paul’s friend
Jørn Pedersen

Brigitta, Paul’s housekeeper
Anette Bod

Juliette, a dancer in Marietta’s troupe
Elsebeth Dreisig
Lucienne, a dancer in Marietta’s troupe
Trine Bastrup Møller
Victorin, the director in Marietta’s troupe
Jan Lund
Fritz / Pierrot in Marietta’s troupe
Daniel Hällström
Count Albert
Jens Krogsgaard
Gaston – a dancer
Ahmad Salhi

The Chorus of the Danish National Opera
Aarhus Symphony Orchestra

Die Tote Stadt – Act 1.

And here are some pictures mostly from Act 1.

Die Tote Stadt – Mostly Act 2

Here is Act 2, with the traveling circus folk, that I tried to base German cabaret from the 1920s and some Klimt fabrics.

Die Tote Stadt – Act 3

Here are some pics from the production – have to remember to start with the end, as otherwise everything seems back to front on the Blog. I will put up a proper credits list when I get into the theatre, so as to be sure of spelling the names right.

Die Tote Stadt 1 – Aarhus

Here are some photos of the filming of the projections, and of the 1st dress rehearsal which took place before the said projections were done. The very brilliant Wendall Harrington and Ruppert [with 2 ps] Boyle made them. That’s Ruppert with the dancing nuns.

Aarhus 2

The theatre has found me a very nice flat here. It’s further away from the opera-house than last time, 2 kilometers across the middle of Aarhus, an ordinary seeming block from the front, but with an endlessly fascinating view across the harbour. The yacht club has its marina directly in front across a cycle way, and to the right is the ferry port and the docks are beyond that. I just love being by the water, I suppose that bits of it are fairly tatty, with graffiti on the boat sheds and so on, but somehow the sea, the ships of all sizes and the light make it lovely.
I rented a bike to get to and from work, also a pleasure in Denmark, as the town roads are organised with bikes in mind, and flocks of cyclists zoom around all over the place. And having got my nerve back and into practice in Balboa Park I do fairly well, if slightly wobbly at start-up still.

Over a footbridge on the quay is a tremendous fish shop, run by a family of enormous Viking fisherman, [5th generation, it says]. I don’t think we have such places in the UK, nearly all the fishmongers having been wiped out by the dreary supermarkets. Today, quite apart from the splendid selection of fresh and prepared fishy things, there was a 5′ shark on the floor with ice around it, and not looking all that dead. And here is a photo of one of the ugliest fishes I ever saw.
Further harbour excitement was the arrival of an absolutely humungus cruise ship. I counted 9 rows of portholes, not including the bits on the top and underneath. It’s gone now, sailing off with much honking of fog horns.

Die Tote Stadt

I’ve been in Aarhus [half way up Jutland on the right hand side] for a few weeks now, for the production period of Korngold’s opera “Die Tote Stadt”.

The dead city in question is Bruge. I found it really hard to get into, being as it is the Fruedian story of a man’s obsession with his recently deceased wife and her hair. 

It was a huge hit in the 1920’s, and now that the band is with us I begin to see why.

Korngold was very young indeed, 23 when he wrote it, and it all obviously just came tumbling out. I’m not enough of a musician to place it properly musically, I’m told it has echos of late Puccini, and there are certainly bits of Strauss, and possibly Weill in the circussy bits.
He certainly doesn’t stint himself, orchestrally speaking, 2 harps, celeste, bells, organ, and goodness knows what else.

The fun bits for me are the circus troupe, the procession of dead Brugians, and Marie’s portrait- come-to-life and doing a Lois Fuller type dance.

Here are some of the drawings.

Mad George

I didn’t take any photos at all during the technical rehearsals of George, the readiness of the costumes suffered a bit from being a, the 3rd show, and b, the most decorated. All that gold trim and frogging is immensely fiddly and time-consuming to apply. Endless bodily fluid notes for the poor King’s ‘small clothes’ didn’t help either.

The big 18th century wigs are a nightmare as well, they look wonderful or ghastly, seems there is no middle way! Molly O’Connor has done wonders.

But the results are spectacular, I could have done costume drawings till my shoulders seized up, but all would have been for nothing had they not been so brilliantly executed by Stacy Sutton’s extraordinary team. I really think the Old Globe has one of the best costume shops in the world – truly world class.