Don Giovanni set design
by Frank Gehry

| 11 comments
 

Architect Frank Gehry filled a stage with crumpled paper for a recent production of the Mozart opera Don Giovanni (+ slideshow).

Don Giovanni set design by Frank Gehry

The performances took place at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the venue designed by Gehry that opened back in 2003.

Don Giovanni set design by Frank Gehry

White platforms were scattered amongst the scrunched-up lengths of paper and could be moved around to create a huge staircase at the centre of the stage.

Don Giovanni set design by Frank Gehry

The orchestra surrounded the performance from the back rather than the front, bringing the audience closer to the action.

Don Giovanni set design by Frank Gehry

The production was the first in a trilogy of operas written by Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte that the LA Philharmomic is staging over three years and the other two will reportedly feature set designs by architects Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel.

Don Giovanni set design by Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry also recently designed a theatre in New York, which you can see here.

Don Giovanni set design by Frank Gehry

Other architects to have designed stage sets include OMA and John Pawson.

Don Giovanni set design by Frank Gehry

See all our stories about set design »

Don Giovanni set design by Frank Gehry

Photography is by Autumn de Wilde.

Here are the full details of the show from the organisers:


The Los Angeles Philharmonic have revealed the complete creative team and full cast for Don Giovanni, the first installment of an ambitious three-year Mozart/Da Ponte opera project presented at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Joining Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Frank Gehry are Kate and Laura Mulleavy, founders of fashion house Rodarte, and acclaimed director Christopher Alden. One of the most celebrated young interpreters of the role, Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien will lead an international cast as Don Giovanni, sharing the stage with equally notable soloists.

Three of the greatest operas ever written were collaborations between librettist Lorenzo da Ponte and composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte. Over the next three years, the LA Phil will present the trilogy (one opera each season), each conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Set designs will be created by three of the most influential architects of our time, and each architect will work with leading fashion designers to create a unique and distinctive visual setting for each of these timeless masterpieces. Each complete opera performance will be a Walt Disney Concert Hall first.

In a fitting beginning, Don Giovanni brings together an acclaimed, Los Angeles-based team. Architect Frank Gehry returns to Walt Disney Concert Hall - the landmark building of his own design that not only transformed Los Angeles, but is now one of the most recognized architectural structures in America - to create an environment uniquely imagined for this auditorium.

“This is an inspiring opportunity to work with my friends at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This is a project very close to Gustavo Dudamel’s heart. He knows the music like the back of his hand, and has a unique vision that I find very exciting,” says Gehry. “Kate and Laura’s work reminds me of my early days – it is free and fearless and not precious.”

Gehry envisions a set that he describes as a “moving still-life on the stage” that works in concert with the costumes and supports the music of Don Giovanni. Gehry’s modifications will place the orchestra upstage on raised lifts approximately three and a half feet above the action taking place downstage. The choir benches will be removed to allow space for the orchestra. This layout aims to create a unified ensemble between the orchestra and soloists, with a focus on the action at the front of the stage, creating intimacy between the soloists and audience. This configuration has recently been tested in a rehearsal with Gustavo Dudamel and Yasuhisa Toyota, the chief acoustician who collaborated with Gehry and the Los Angeles Philharmonic to develop Walt Disney Concert Hall’s visual and acoustic designs.

California natives, Kate and Laura Mulleavy- the creative force behind the internationally recognized fashion house Rodarte- make their operatic costume debut. Founded in Los Angeles in 2005, Rodarte is the winner of the Cooper Hewitt 2010 National Design Award for fashion and the designers and creators of the ballet costumes for the Academy Award winning film, Black Swan. Admirers of Gustavo Dudamel and Frank Gehry, Kate and Laura are honored to be a part of the Don Giovanni creative team. "Frank Gehry is an incredible artist and brilliant innovator whose unparalleled vision has redefined the modern landscape. We are great admirers of Gustavo Dudamel’s masterful and inspired direction," says Kate and Laura. "Opera has always been a part of us; our grandmother was from Rome and studied it as a young girl. To be a part of the legacy of Don Giovanni is an amazing opportunity. Working with Frank Gehry in the concert hall that he designed, alongside Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is a dream." Kate and Laura’s ambition is to create a timeless context for Mozart's characters, bringing together tradition and their unique point of view.

Director Christopher Alden belongs to a generation of modernist directors known for his use of contemporary imagery and, on occasion, minimalist visual style. He has an eye for bold theatrical gestures that are dramatically effective and his approach to stagecraft is driven by a desire to reveal how powerfully opera stories can resonate with modern experience. Alden has said that "however fascinating the era in which an opera was composed may be, I have a primary responsibility to the world we live in now." Christopher Alden replaces Paul Curran, who had to step down from the production due to scheduling issues.

Le nozze di Figaro, the second installment of the LA Phil’s Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy, will be performed in May 2013, and the trilogy will conclude with a production of Così fan tutte in May 2014.

  • Wade

    Crumpled paper? So Gehry has basically become the Simpsons parody of himself, right?

    • http://twitter.com/sadahkeem @sadahkeem

      Exactly my thought! Video is here:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTswlJDd8nE

    • kudz

      that was my 1st thought as soon as i saw the 1st image…oh frank *shakes head*

    • H-J

      I'm sure he's well aware of that…and he's playing the card fabulously.

  • punter

    That guy in the movie dirty work would say – "What are you doing? You're ruining Don Giovanni!" haha

  • Mert

    hamster paradise

  • http://dailygrail.com/ Red Pill Junkie

    Brainstorming>Discarding Ideas>Frustration>Looking at Trash Bin>Eureka!

  • Colonel Pancake

    Ol' Uncle Frank is being nutty again. Somebody take away his peppermint Schnapps before he starts talking about Aunt Linda's abortion.

  • Paul O' Brien

    All typical jokes aside though (and I am often critical of Gehry) the stage does look pretty astonishing.

    • Sam

      I agree. And I think the collaboration between architecture and performing arts is really quite inspring.

  • jlpr70

    I don't know. I had not seen the Simpson's episode until now, but I always explained Ghery's work to non-architects by wrinkling paper…astonishing! I do agree that the stage looks interesting.