The avalanche of media that buries us all puts theater and opera in a bind: Though their artworks have been timeless for hundreds of years, they’re aging fast in the Internet age. Which is why some of them are turning to design, to impart fresh new meaning–and scene stealing eye candy–to old works.
One example this summer: A stage designed by Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, for productions of two ancient Greek tragedies, Medea and Oedipus at Colonus, at the Greek Theater in Sircusa, Italy. The amphitheater itself is hundreds of years old; the Fuksas’s idea was to create a visual metaphor for catharsis–the ancient-Greek idea of release through drama. To that end, they created an artificial metal “horizon,” that would give shadowy reflections of the action on stage, as well as the audience:
Obviously, Fuksas’s design was meant to be contemporary and ancient at once. But last summer, for a Spanish production of Richard Wagner’s Siegfried, conduced by Zubin Mehta, director Carlus Padrissa went a completely contemporary direction, creating what amounts to a multi-media spectacle. Wagner probably wouldn’t have minded–after all, he was the original proponent of the Gesamtkunstwerk–a art piece that would include every single art form, all rolled into a single whole:
Stateside, you’ll have a chance to see some bold theatrical experiments this fall: The Wyly Theater will be opening its new theater complex, designed by REX, and it’ll have an unparalleled lever of re-configurability, allowing the directors to experiment with stages, layouts, and seating: