Monday, July 27, 2009

The Return of Ulysses @ Wolf Trap Opera Company

Once again, I am inspired and overwhelmed by the aesthetics of an opera. Director James Marvel's spartan yet sumptuous production of Monteverdi's 1640 telling of The Odyssey hinged on the artful interplay of sound, texture, light, and video imagery. The set was stark muted silver and rusted around the edges providing a post-apocalyptic aura that was expertly juxtaposed with the organic imagery projected upon it throughout the show. Whether large looming eyes, rivulets of blood, adust landscapes or stormy waves at sea, the moving images behind the moving players onstage merged to present evocative and entrancing tableau after tableau.

The costumery also combined minimalism with broad splashy strokes of maximalism. From the suitors dressed in Mad Max meets Gotti brothers sleaze-wear to Ulysses' Sigue Sigue Sputnik fishnet mask and Minerva's spiked metal headpiece and leather tartan with thigh high boots, many of the looks from the show would have been quite at home on the couture runways of Galliano, Gareth Pugh, or Issey Miyake. Penelope was Elvira in mourning as she laid bare her wretched longing with heartbreaking intensity, the long red hair that she anxiously pulled out in clumps offset by dramatic Kabuki-style eyebrows and sparkling black Morticia Adams dress. This is what the term 'Rock Opera' was made for. The execution and aesthetic dynamism of the production was thrilling beyond expectation. Is it any wonder that the early design meetings for this show were held at Wierd?

Design Team:

Projections: S. Katy Tucker
Costumes: Andrea Huelse
Set: Eric Allgeier

For more info, check out this review by a seasoned opera critic at the Baltimore Sun.

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