Towards a Final Project
Design for opera
In my final MA exhibition, I am planning to exhibit samples of my design work, such as model boxes, storyboards, drawings and props and costume samples. I want the exhibition to give an idea of who I am as a theatre designer, and what people could expect to get from me if they would hire me as a designer. I also want to design the exhibition space itself, so that it would give the audience a hint of what the realized design would look like. It would be great if the exhibition would be interactive in some way, give the audience chance to try, touch and feel.
I had a big struggle for quite a while deciding what to do as my final project. I like getting inspiration from music, and have not yet worked on a design proposal for an opera or a musical, so after a lot of speculations I decided to make a complete design proposal for an opera that would form by final project.
I have always loved the opera The Magic Flute by Mozart, so my first idea was to design for that. But after doing a lot of research and listening to other operas, I decided to choose The Ring of the Nieblung (Der Ring des Nibelungen) by the German composer Richard Wagner. The Ring Cycle is a cycle of four epic music dramas based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied. Wagner wrote the libretto and music for the Ring Cycle over the course of about twenty-six years, from 1848 to 1874. The four parts that constitute the Ring cycle are, in sequence: Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried and Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods). The first performance as a cycle opened the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876.
Since it would be a huge project designing all four operas, I imagine that I will come up with a main concept for all of them, but chose one to design in detail.
Research and inspiration
During unit 2 I have been doing some basic research on opera and Wagner, and have been listening to the Ring Cycle to get familiar with the music. I have been looking through books and watched for example a very interesting documentary on Wagner by BBC. He certainly was a musical genius, but he must have been a difficult man, betrayed everybody and everything for his own benefit.
I have also been looking into different productions of the Ring since its premiere in 1876. I found a production by the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 2012 very fascinating, where a huge machine, a glitch-prone contraption, designed by Carl Fillion cleverly served as a single set for all four operas. Here is an interesting video about the machine. I also really liked Stefanos Lazaridis’ design for the Covent Garden opera from 2004-2006 and discovered that in 1996 there was a production of the Cycle made in Iceland where all four operas were combined in a shortened 6-hour version. It was an interesting experiment that got very mixed reviews.
In my final critical paper I am planning on looking into the history of productions and interpretation of the Ring.
A trailer for the Metropolian production from 2012. Bayeruth production from 1980.
Research on previous productions.