A dirty affair
published in: Opera
|Alek Shrader (c) Peter Schaaf|
Relationships can be difficult. They can get complicated. They can become messy. Likewise, the stage of Così fan tutte
will go from stark, sterile white to mud-smeared, forest-infested chaos over the course of two acts. The question is, which is the true nature of love – clean and pure that inevitably gets stained, or dirty and flawed that can only be covered up by a pretty shell for a limited time? It’s too heavy for me to decide, so I’ll leave it up to you. In fact, when faced with these questions myself, I usually choose answer C (but I can’t tell you what that is because it’s a secret). Anyway, back to dirt. You should see this set!
For scheduling purposes, we were lucky enough to have four days on set (which is a rare and welcomed opportunity this early in the staging process). We were all a little intimidated, but also really enjoyed getting familiar with the amazing world that has been created for us. Claus Guth (the director) likes to use the word “strong” to describe the pictures we can make on this set. He’s right – vivid contrast will be a huge part of the production, and as an actor I can say we’re really lucky to be able to play on such a playground designed by Christian Schmidt and lit by Olaf Winter.
The opera begins in an empty white room (add your own psychological connotation if you’d like). It’s blank, it’s clinical, it’s a little spooky. Little do the young couples know, they’ve been enrolled in an experiment that will force their relationships with each other (and their costumes!) to get dirty. As the action proceeds, locked doors open and leaves blow in. Then entire sections of wall are removed to reveal a shadowy forest, and strange men in suicidal desperation – covered in mud! – smear themselves on the walls and the floor! In act 2 the forest has invaded the formerly spotless room and now even the girls are playing in the dirt. Things get messy, to say the least. By the end of the opera, our little experiment will have sullied more than clothes and scenery. I don’t know the brave souls who have to clean it up each time we ruin it with various special muds and debris, but I’m sure it takes quite a lot of labor and I want to state for the record that we all appreciate it very much! We can make as big a mess as we like and then just walk away (to the showers, quickly), and for that we thank you.