Friday, July 04, 2008
My painting XXIX + The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is now afloat in Holland Park. Even the accident prone first night was well received and moderately well reviewed: one or two critics went so far as to mention the design. Opera deals in magnified emotion both on and off stage. Behind the scenes, in rehearsasl room and workshop, blunder and wonder alternate with alarming rapidity. In the final few days containable crisis turns to panic: my own nightmare was to be left with two huge and prominent sections of platform which had been inattentively miscrafted at the scenery store. I got them both moved to a makeshift open air studio by the auditorium and sent for tins of colour.
This was my Charlton Heston moment, straight from The Agony and the Ecstasy, working at speed with brushes unfamiliarly large and visited from time to time by Simon Callow (in the role of Pope Julius II) bringing coffee in cardboard cups.
I finished the second of the nine foot long sections just as the orchestra were taking their places for the public dress rehearsal. A lot of earlier problems with costume and set had been solved by Billie Achilleos whom I met a year before at her graduate show at Wimbledon College of Art where I offered her the work experience as helper and gofer. Luckily she revealed all kind of talent and ingenuity and was properly designated Assistant Designer by the time the programme was printed.
Here is her photo of the initial Act One set and of myself and Simon after the harrowing first night - guess which one of these two is an actor. The image should have included our conductor Jane Glover who made sure that whatever went wrong on stage we were never without the full riches of Mozart's miraculous score.
The comments above explain why my picture has not moved on very much. This is the current state of play. I am hoping for a quiet summer of consolidation in good light, with few phone calls and cricket on the radio.