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.

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