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un ballo in maschera

Conceptual

Dir. Rhian Hutchings

Wales Millennium Centre

    Based around a post-war dystopia - we are just after the war has ended, and no-one knows how to compute anything anymore.  In this world, the people are poor, have lost faith in both a God and in their leaders.  However, Riccardo himself has lost faith too.  He was in his element during the war, capable of making decisions and succeeding.  He too feels lost, and so in his way is seeking a new beginning and a lost feeling in his love with Amelia.  He has never seen the front of war, and so cannot understand the altered men under his control 

    Renato on the other hand has seen the front line, and planned from behind the troops. He is a harsher personality, seen by his precise military way of living, with everything in its place and in ship shape, including his uniform.  

    The whole opera takes place in this place of containment representing a bunker, but also a mausoleum.  I was struck by a particular reference image of an Italian war monument that was grand and monumental, but in fact covered the bodies of 140,000 soldiers whose names were unknown.  This whole sleek covering of horror was hugely influential for this initial design.  The sandbags create a complete sense of what context we are living with from the offset.  I was also interested in working with scale, and a sense of everything being a lot bigger than imagined in order to achieve the sense of foreboding and feeling small in a world of problems. 

    In this design, carrion birds play an important role in both set and costume, and explaining the reason as to why Oscar is the conspirator in our rendition.  Above the war monument that Amelia takes her herb from, is a giant iron raven looking down over the dead.  Similarly, live crows are featured around the space.  There is also a trade of a feather from the conspirators to Renato when he reveals he will join them.  Concluding the theme, at the time when the masquerade ball begins to fill the space, we see everyone is wearing leather raven skeleton masks, as well as having intricate feather epaulettes.  

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