The Scenographer Special Paolo Miccichè

 

Embed or link this publication

Description

Special Issue of The Scenographer, International Journal of Set & Stage Design. Stage and Visual director Paolo Miccichè. Works 1987-2008

Popular Pages


p. 1



[close]

p. 2

a while back i happened to see at the arena di verona an opera production that added new expressions to my visual vocabulary the visual director paolo miccichè had emptied the arena s immense stage area and filled it anew with a stream of dynamic imagery that showered puccini s musical landscape with energy and colour no longer did we have the traditional opera set there were as many sets as the music prompted and so butterfly was all alone in that vast space but also haunted by her ghosts i was so impressed that as soon as the opportunity presented itself i invited paolo to washington opera to open the difficult season in exile at the constitution hall where two new editions of aida and norma were staged as different from each other in terms of imagery and style as they were similar in the set-up and then ­ returning to the kennedy center riding high on the success of this new visual language ­ with i vespri siciliani which i myself wanted to conduct and with an edition of verdi s macbeth that perhaps is my favourite among the productions that paolo has worked on for my theatre and how to express the emotion i felt when once again from the podium i witnessed the towering architecture of the baths of caracalla its ruins become authentic characters interrelating with verdi s cast in the production of aida paolo often tells me that i am a key figure in his development of this language so in tune with the visual awareness of our day but also with the demand that the music makes for continuous changes of rhythm and situation i am pleased that my contribution ­ together with the critical elements that experimentation requires ­ has played such an important part in the course of his artistic development this monothematic issue of the scenographer is an appropriate tribute to paolo s courage determination and talent in seeking new avenues for staging opera today placido domingo affascinata innamorata conquistata operosamente convinta tanto da non poter non rinunciare sempre e comunque alle meraviglie poetiche che dalla magica finestrella piena di cristalli luquidi mani sapienti e generatrici sanno estrarre per poi proiettarle nello spazio e dar vita di conseguenza a imprevedibili camere ottiche piene di sorprese vestire lo spazio riempire il tempo spazializzare il suono essere padroni dell eco animare il pensiero abbandonarsi e immergersi in un acquario di emozioni reali e virtuali concrete e metafisiche con paolo miccichè magnifico visual director tutto questo abbiamo vissuto insieme dedicandoci ad un trovatore che ci ha portato ad un trasporto straordinario dove si rischia di venire addirittura colpiti dalla sindrome del power point cioè il potere di arrivare a puntualizzare il punto estremo dell astrazione dell attimo sonoro che passa una gioia una ebrezza per un lavoro faticosissimo pieno di aspettative nella ricerca futura per nuove tecnologie un gran compagno di viaggio paolo micciché enchanted captivated conquered actively convinced enough to be unable to renounce forever and come what may the poetic wonders that from the magic lens dancing with liquid crystals skillful productive hands are able to extract to then project them into space thus generating spontaneous camere ottiche full of revelations to clothe the space fill time spatialize sound to be masters of the echo to stimulate the mind to abandon then immerse oneself in an aquarium of real and virtual emotions both concrete and metaphysical with paolo miccichè superb visual director all this we have experienced together dedicating ourselves to a trovatore which has given us such tremendous enthusiasm to the point where we risk being hit by the power point syndrome the capacity to qualify the limit of abstraction of the resounding instant that fleets boundless joy and exhilaration for such a demanding activity ripe in expectations in the onward quest for new technologies a great fellow voyager paolo miccichè cristina mazzavillani muti

[close]

p. 3

entro l opera paolo miccichè i nside the opera precisely that such a title usually refers to a guide that leads the reader to discover secrets and marvels penetrating right to the heart of the creative lab of a director or in this case a visual director in the case of paolo miccichè the words inside the opera with a capital o might rather sound like a personal subtitle almost an inscription to include on a business card paolo miccichè has always felt perfectly at ease with the language the spectacle in the physical and emotional expression of opera and a simple and by now remote memory confirms this november 1984 in the openly dramatic parade ground of barracks on the outskirts of bari [southern italy hundreds of selfconscious recruits line up to the sound of stentorian military marches the handsome rookie miccichè takes part in the muster impeccable in standing to attention yet his mind is elsewhere in fact by place and situation he is literally on the other side of the planet he is mulling over his first opera production as director così fan tutte for santiago de chile while the air reverberates to the sound of corporals così fan tutte stefano zuffi yelling orders a light suddenly gleams in his blue eyes i ve got it he confides softly laughing to yours truly his `fish out of the water comrade-in-arms fiordiligi sings her great aria `come scoglio it is the defining moment of the narrative on an effectively bare stage i ll have a large mirror descend from behind her the audience will also get a rear view of the singer and this will be the symbol of her inner conflict of the dialogue with herself of the double that is being generated from sentiments that are apparently unshakable he is thinking for example of the mirror effect of a repeated phrase first on very low notes followed by an acute e la tempesta e la tempesta from this flash of inspiration in the midst of the scenario so lacking in stimulus that is military service anything but bella vita militar with a nod to mozart and da ponte miccichè had a very clear objective intervene on the image manipulate it multiply it make it come alive and so involve the spectator within the scene thus enabling him to actively participate in the magic and the illusion of opera così fan tutte santiago chile teatro municipal 1985 scenic and costume designer beni montresor director paolo miccichè sinfonia per pietà ben mio perdona act 2 come scoglio act 1

[close]

p. 4

on another more subtle level miccichè then began a continuous research into the visualisation of an interior world that characterises the protagonists of these dramas and which marks the most moving and memorable moments of his productions through the projection of images emerge citations memories dreams nightmares dejà-vu illusions like music the flow of these images is evanescent elusive transitory yet these delicate figures poignant in the subtlety of their continual dissolving and reappearing hold an exceptional communicative power each stage of his career has been coherent with this desire the context the means or the technologies can change but the will remains constant or maybe it is the necessity to communicate and share passions and emotions an undertaking that has become extremely pressing in fact with great lucidity miccichè has for some time repeated that the future of opera cannot be enclosed in the obligatory boxed spaces of traditional theatres opera should now enter into dialogue with the arenas the archaelogical sites the stadia the piazzas when micciché set il trovatore against the petrochemical refinery of ravenna transforming the stage area into an aquarium or when he computer-generated images of obsessive compact parades of egyptian figures for his aida on the walls of the baths of caracalla he achieves something that is both sophisticated and popular in effect deliberately referring back to the original spirit of the opera and if this same aida kept 25,000 spectators glued to their stadium seats in pretoria as if they were at a springboks rugby match it can only mean that this enterprise is built on solid rock in formulating this sense of an art that is unfailingly contemporary and alive miccichè had some of the best mentors at the state school in milan where he graduated he often heard repeated that the concept of classical does not coincide with a theoretical ultra-conservatism carved in stone but is rather a state of mind that still has force and relevance today when it lives and resonates and is in the present art poetry music the utmost respect for the original text and an awareness of its context and background are the starting points for any hansel and gretel hansel and gretel houston grand opera 1988 scenic and costume designer beni montresor director paolo miccichè monster in the forest hansel and gretel houston grand opera 1988 scenic and costume designer beni montresor director paolo miccichè the witch as a big cook and not be afraid to explore environments and audiences beyond the norm special visual effects lighting multiple projection of images that stream costumes that become an integral part of the scenography experimental materials synchronisation of colours and figures miccichè s research always appears to be in quest of something new but as the man himself repeats without the anxiety of modernisation at all costs indeed miccichè is perfectly aware of carrying out a rigorously philological operation mozart from whose letters he produced a fascinating theatrical light entertainment and verdi are the composers that are closest to his heart as he fully identifies with their concept of an opera capable of speaking to everyone of transmitting emotions that are in no way the reserve of melancholy adherents in search of lost time each period offers new materials and means of expression and artists develop the ability to make effective use of them that is why for the ancient greeks the word that we translate as art was tékne in the etimological sense there is no contradiction between artistic creation and the application of technical rules reading and enable one to develop a deep understanding of the meaning of an artwork placing the author in relation with the expectations and techniques of his time as for interpretation the details are crucial short cuts or approximations are inacceptable miccichè carried out a meticulous study of italian 19th-century painting in order to select the paintings projected within the gigantic frames of i vespri siciliani staged in washington in 2005 a meticulous selection which prompted an enthusiastic audience response to the production echoing the spirit of the risorgimento with a finale that included a charge of the rifle regiment of the italian army and a deal of flag waving this really was viva v.e.r.d.i and not just a superficial display of factual knowledge just as effective is the surprising manipulations of doré s etchings magnified coloured dismantled and reassembled as a visual casing of the dante-symphonie by liszt in this way a refined piece of musical theatre intended more for an aristocratic middle-european salon is transformed into an electrifying artistic spectacle of universal appeal for the scenery designed for the norma staged at the teatro carlo felice in genoa the pieces of celtic

[close]

p. 5

don giovanni sassari italy 1994 set designer antonio mastromattei director paolo miccichè madama butterfly jewellery that appear enlarged to the dimensions of supernatural idols and caught in the tangle of branches have the finality of a revelation they play a part mysteriously in comprehending the nocturnal whirl the hypnotic power of bellini s opera it looks easy miccichè loves the simplicity and clarity that is real culture and he intends to have fun the real risks to avoid are inertia irrelevance and emotional distance which alienate the spectator from don giovanni that which occurs on stage prejudice coupled with the intrinsic difficulty in language can create an unbridgeable gap between opera and today s audiences the solutions that miccichè proposes are always respectful of the classics though never in a neutral detached vein on the contrary there is not one production staged by micchichè in whatever hemisphere in which one does not feel his essentially mediterranean passion for opera blended with a dash of latin wit a madama butterfly baltimore opera 2008 costume designer alberto spiazzi projection coordinator michael clark stage and visual director paolo miccichè baltimore opera miccich È 26 paolopaolomiccich È 27

[close]

p. 6

madama butterfly arena di verona prompted talk of rock opera but this is a misleading interpretation miccichè certainly does not believe that a mask an artificial appearance or a superficial facelift are sufficient to make opera attractive or suitable for a modern audience his way of doing things runs so much deeper based on his creative and professional role as visual director a key figure for a new interaction between the stage and the audience miccichè is fond of repeating that music lovers have access to sound reproduction and recording equipment capable of offering a listening experience that is a far cry from live musical performance individual control of volume star line-ups even in the minor singing roles filtered and optimized recordings totally in tune with the listener s lifestyle it s out of the question opera as live performance is an entirely different matter beyond the immutable appeal of the house lights that dim and the curtain that rises your neighbour s stifled cough the minor incident the unintentional humour in the text of the libretto and in its translation the makeshift solution the final ovation maybe even the throng at the crush bar during the interval are all part of the experience it s the job of the maquette by antonio mastromattei madama butterfly arena di verona 1999 set designer antonio mastromattei projection designer patrick watkinson stage and visual direction paolo miccichè hint of scepticism and a relish for the unexpected opera in serious danger of becoming a leisure pursuit for a handful of intellectuals makes its comeback as a healthy lively form of popular entertainment the pleasure derived from music from song from live performance and image is not just limited to the intellectual enjoyment by any individual but it is a collective experience in which to become completely immersed if opera is staged in stadia it is only right that an atmosphere of active participation and engagement is generated why ever should this dimension be negated thereby reducing the staging of an opera to a solitary cerebral act witnessing an opera designed by miccichè means letting yourself be enveloped in a stream of moving images that spread the expanse of unusual sites and in some cases even invite the spectator to become an active part of the narrative flow the paradoxical situations the high cs belted out the coloratura the eloquent gestures the larger than life characters the impossible dialogues the narrative stratagems the amazing scenery the garish costumes the physical hyperbole of the singers have always been an integral part of an opera production they are essential ingredients that make up its brand of magic there is no sense in trying to sterilize them or water them down or conceal them in any way worse still to revisit them in a forced symbolic manner or in an anorexic minimalist setting miccichè s productions are basically traditional in the sense that they do not represent a search for hidden meanings and do not constitute a forced modern-day reading when not grotesque miccichè loves the music the song and the unfolding of an opera s narrative too much to even think of suffocating it with sensational effects for the sake of it he is the first to put himself on the line when he speaks of opera miccichè can barely suppress a smile that expresses affection and pleasure his aim is to transmit through the image and the movement in scenery the concept of melodrama as gesamtkunstwerk global work of art precisely the same aim that composers conductors actors and directors have for centuries expressed the use of digital technology of images in fade-out of synchronized video projections and the penchant for unconventional sites for his productions has madama butterfly arena di verona 1999 set designer antonio mastromattei projection designer patrick watkinson stage and visual direction paolo miccichè miccich È 28 paolopaolomiccich È 29

[close]

p. 7

cavalleria rusticana salzburg austria salzburg grosses festspielhaus 1996 stage and visual direction paolo miccichè the magic flute question of emotional experience one which can be enjoyed in private but which is so much more satisfying if shared these are rare cases in which art the classics still have the power to amaze as the art critic and historian simon schama affirms they tell us something about the world about how to live our lives art music and theatre really can be a part of life capable of offering us even when we least expect it moments of enlightenment on the human condition and not just that of the characters that walk the boards but of our very own visual director to study to plan and manage the wealth of materials and their collective power to amaze as well as to act as a point of reference for a team of professionals real success and it can t be overstated is measured by the level of audience engagement intended not just as an individual s appreciative response but by an audience as a communal whole miccichè is years ahead in staging opera as a cultural phenomenon with mass-appeal the spectators who respond with enthusiasm to his shows can be compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who queue for an art exhibition to the crowd that gathers to listen to dante s la divina commedia or the piazzas still full late at night during the summer festivals of poetry and literature while sociologists were trying to gain insight into the phenomenon with great lucidity miccichè got right to the heart of the affair our age has created the ideal conditions and means in which the myth of individualism propagates it is the realm of the my generation of private territory and self-sufficiency the antidote to egocentricity lies in the desire to participate to belong to be part of the group if art and culture have the courage to break free from the traditional designated sites which though protective tend to stifle they would certainly find a ready and willing audience it s a cavalleria rusticana the magic flute operaincanto umbria italy 2006 stage and visual direction paolo miccichè costume designer alessandra vadalà miccich È 30 paolopaolomiccich È 31

[close]

p. 8

macbeth washington national opera kennedy center 2007 costume designer alberto spiazzi lighting designer maurizio montobbio stage and visual direction paolo miccichè lady macbeth sonnambulism

[close]

p. 9

macbeth macbeth washington national opera kennedy center 2007 costume designer alberto spiazzi lighting designer maurizio montobbio stage and visual direction paolo miccichè the witches cavern

[close]

p. 10



[close]

p. 11

aida teatro dell opera di roma terme di caracalla 2005 set designer antonio mastromattei costume designer alberto spiazzi images output luca dalcò stage and visual director paolo miccichè

[close]

p. 12



[close]

p. 13



[close]

p. 14

aida in tour madrid london amsterdam zurich lisboa copenhagen helsinki buenos aires pretoria set designer antonio mastromattei projection designer patrick watkinson stage and visual director paolo miccichè aida teatro dell opera di roma terme di caracalla set designer antonio mastromattei stage and visual director paolo miccichè

[close]

p. 15

aida washington national opera constitution hall 2003 set designer antonio mastromattei projection co-designer patrick watkinson costume designer alberto spiazzi stage and visual direction paolo miccichè

[close]

Comments

no comments yet