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Opera By Design: Marina Hadjilouca

Last summer we worked with the brilliant designer Marina Hadjilouca on Die Fledermaus. We caught up with her to see what she’s been up to since…

 

What have you been working on since Die Fledermaus?

Abelard and Heloise
Photo: Christos Avramides

I designed the sets and costumes for ‘Abelard and Heloise’. The play premiered in Cyprus on the 14th of February 2020. It a contemporary play, 

written by Yiannis Kalavrianos, and is based on the true story of Abelard and Heloise, two lovers from the French Medieval times. The text speaks about forbidden love, taboo topics, the musts of society. 
 

When you’re part of a new production, where do you start?

Abelard and Heloise
Photo: Christos Avramides

One of the first things I do when I’m brought onto a new production, after I have read the text (or in this case, the score and libretto, and listened to the opera) I have a conversation with the director. We talk about the story and their vision, and I share my first responses with some general inspiration images. We look at things that may have triggered my imagination.

 
The next step is to really go into the plot, discuss it scene-by-scene and look at some tangible ideas through sketches and in a model box. The same thing happens with the costumes, we talk about the characters and analyse their story. We look at images that may have inspired me. This can be from paintings, sculptures all the way to fashion editorials.
 
 

Which of your designs have you been most proud of to date and why? 

Die Fledermaus Arcola Theatre

David Horton as Eisenstein & James McOran-Campbell as Falke in Die Fledermaus 2019

Other than Die Fledermaus, of course! One of my favourite projects to date has been Lysistrata. Aristophane’s classic was adapted and directed by Brian Michaels for the purposes of the European Capital of Culture, Paphos 2017. I was chosen by Brian to design the set and costumes for this unique adaptation. It was a rather different version of  Aristophanes’ comedy, brought together 12 young actors from Cyprus, Brazil and Nigeria, accompanied by the sound of a four-member ensemble from Germany – and it brought the special House of Aion, at the Paphos Archaeological Park to life.

 
It was the first time for me as a performance designer to work at an archaeological site, and I found ways to think about how my designs could become part of such an historically important site.
 
 

Who are your inspirations as a designer? 

Abelard and Heloise
Photo: Christos Avramides

As a practitioner and researcher, I draw inspiration from various different mediums and texts. I visit exhibitions in museums and galleries, I attend performances, I watch movies and series, I read texts about space, about the notion of site and about the notion of scenography and its expanding form.

 
 
 

Artists that I find inspiring…

Tim Etchells. Jeremy Deller. Jeff Wall. Platform Scenography. Olafur Eliasson.
 
Find out more about Marina here.
Find out more about Die Fledermaus at the Arcola, featuring Marina’s designs here.
Blog

From Morden to the Mariinsky Concert Hall

One of the special new additions to this year’s performances was our brass band, who led the audiences between each performance location. We were lucky to be joined by three wonderful young musicians Siân Collins, Ben Day and Derryck Nasib.

We’re particularly keen to support local young musicians so were excited to have Derryck join the team, who’s actually from Morden. He only needed to roll out of bed 10mins before the call time before our Morden performance! So we thought we’d catch up with him about what it has been like performing with Baseless Fabric this summer:

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Why Audiences Love Street Opera

Our favourite thing about our street opera performances is seeing how audiences respond. We love that the unique Baseless Fabric style – where operas pop up unexpectedly on the high street, and move from location to location – excites audiences. It’s so thrilling to clearly see people enjoying the performance which you wouldn’t be able to see from the stage of a big opera house.

And when we announced our Die Fledermaus locations, we were delighted to find people reminiscing about our performances of Cosi Fan Tutte in 2017 & 2018. For example:

https://twitter.com/carolinefrmus/status/1148664968482557953

And: Read more

Blog

What is Grimeborn?

The Arcola (Dalston)

Grimeborn is the annual opera festival at one of London’s coolest theatres, The Arcola. Over the last ten years, the festival has become the home for adventurous takes on familiar classics, resurrections of forgotten gems, and premieres of brand new works. This year there are no less than 16 productions. There are £12 tickets available for each one. It’s cheap, it’s accessible – and it’s mindblowing when you realise how much there is to the opera world. 

Don’t take our word for it. Here are some examples that we can’t wait for:

Bringing back unknown operas to life – like Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha

Somehow Scott Joplin, the ‘King of Ragtime’, is only known for his famous piano tune The Entertainer. But then you hear about an American opera-musical like this, entirely ahead of its time, entirely relevant still – and with a title like Treemonisha… well, you just kinda have to go!

See also Aaron Copland’s Twelve Poems by Emily Dickinson.

Radical takes on opera classics – like Die Fledermaus

Our very own artistic director Jo Turner and composer Leo Geyer return with a new take of Strauss’ classic. Working with designer Marina Hadjilouca and lighting designer Jack Weir, Baseless Fabric will bring our street opera indoors for two performances only, for an entirely new take on our style of relevant, irreverent opera re-imagining. Find out more here. Read more

Blog

Making Opera With Young People

Every two weeks, director Elen and musical director James lead a session in Cranmer Primary School. We chatted to Elen about what they’ve been working on.

Baseless Fabric Theatre workshop with primary school group – Wimbledon Foundation

Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to at Cranmer.

Since January, James (the musical director) and myself have been working with year 5 and 6 students from Cranmer Primary School. We’ve been devising scenes. We’ve written and composed music. We’ve used improvisation techniques to adapt the characters from Die Fledermaus.

It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, not just because we’ve facilitated these young people in creating their own performance, but we’ve also witnessed their confidence grow and creative ideas flourish. Read more

Blog

A New Face at Baseless Fabric

Hi! My name is Leo, and I’m delighted to have been chosen to join the Baseless Fabric team. I’ve been working with them for just less than a month so far, but here are 5 things I’ve already learned:
 

ENGAGEMENT IS AMAZINGLY REWARDING

Beatboxing Workshop in Mitcham Library

Opera sounds beautiful, but then so does the sound of a roomful of young people buzzing as they take part in a theatre design workshop, or parents waxing lyrically about how grateful they are that we’ve been doing work in areas that might not normally offer arts activities like stage combat or puppetry. It’s been a pleasure to see how seriously Baseless Fabric takes its community engagement projects – from school groups visiting Wimbledon Tennis, workshops in Mitcham Library – and I’m excited to start playing a role in making these things happen.

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Blog

Lunchtime Opera: Different Perspectives

Recently we took our Die Fledermaus adaptation into local community centres so that elderly lunch club groups can hear a professional opera singer and pianist perform live and chat to them about what it’s like to work as a professional musician.

We asked our session leaders to tell us what their favourite moment was: Read more