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Meghan Lindsay and the Artists of Atelier Ballet. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Meghan Lindsay and the Artists of Atelier Ballet. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

On Tuesday we released Opera Atelier’s official image for Handel’s Alcina and the response has been amazing. Both the photo and the video have attracted enormous attention on social media, and the interest continues to grow in Canada, the US and Europe!

Many people have asked us how we go about crafting an image of this sort – What is the inspiration? Where does it begin? Who is involved? etc…

The imaging of a production like Alcina is as important to us as every other aspect of the opera. The image becomes the catalyst and take-off point by which we all understand “the opera must feel like this.

In discussions with my co-artistic director, it was Jeannette who drew my attention to the fact that Alcina does not turn men only into animals (as does Circe in the Aeneid). The chorus at the end of Alcina makes it clear that her entire world is a mirage, composed of the souls of her past lovers. Voices in the chorus announce to the audience that they were previously a tree, a wave, a cloud, etc… This reminded Jeannette of the myths and legends she grew up with, particularly those of the Bros. Grimm, in which the forest is a frightening, malevolent place, full of spirits and life forces. It is a place of both decomposition and regeneration. A forest seemed the perfect setting in which to depict Alcina – a female life force, who both destroys and creates.

I then took the idea to our Resident Set Designer, Gerard Gauci, who acts as Art Director at all of OA’s photo shoots. I described to Gerard an image of Alcina rising out of the forest floor. I imagined her surrounded by men, in positions that were sensual but ambiguous. Perhaps they are sleeping, perhaps they are under a spell, or perhaps they are no longer alive and are returning to the earth.  I particularly wanted to see one man sliding off of her arm in a position reminiscent of the extremely sensual image of Christ in Ruben’s “Descent from The Cross.”

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Gerard thinks with a pencil in his hand and he was sketching as fast as I spoke. When he showed me the image he had created, it was like looking at something I had dreamed. This was where we began.

 

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– Marshall

Up next: Classical References for a Modern Image

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