Rigoletto

Gothenburg Opera, Sweden 2004-2005

The opera production approached the identity of the individual, through the concepts of the narrativity and the performativity. It illustrated how identities are formed by narrative and how narrative structures act implicitly in individual identity formation.

We took few practical and theoretical starting points for the spatial and visual solutions in the the opera production which I was responsible:

  1. How could theatre/opera function as a Foucaltian heterotopia, neither as an imaginary space, nor as an everyday landscape? Foucault proposed that unusual, or out-of-the-ordinary, places - theaters, hospitals, the colony - provide most acute perceptions of the social order. Foucault suggested that heterotopic environments are both priviledged and politically charged. They suspend, neutralize, or invert the relationships that they designate.
  2. A place, a theater, a stage is not just a mechanism for controlling gendered subjectivities. It is the control of sexuality by systems of representation that as well produce these places.
  3. Fashion and ways of dressing are some of the key factors as we define the modernity of architecture and modern architecture. The male unchangeable code of a formal suit symbolizes the stability, functionality and appropriatness of modern architectural spaces. The timeless, universal, well cut men’s suit functions as a model for the standardization of modern architecture.
  4. The modern period has been marked by a gender division between consumption and production. Mothering has been part of the consumption and war of the production. Modern architecture has served as well to reproduce and reinforce the gendered social division. Post-modern has allowed a change in gender roles for men, men have become consumers as well. The representations of postmodern are no longer charged so heavily with dichotomous gender stereotypes.

Francesco Maria Piave has defined in his libretto four different scenes, even though there are just three acts in the opera. (I.) Ornate Hall in the Ducal Palace, (II.) A Dark remote alleyway between Ceprano’s mansion and Rigoletto’s house, (III.) A salon in the Ducal Palace, (IV.) On the bank of the Mincio. a rundown, two-storied house.

Göteborgs Opera’s version of Rigoletto has the same spaces and scenes but they are all slightly modified to function in the contemporary condition. There is as well a fifth scene/space in the end of the third act. This space is reminiscent of a parking place somewehere in the outskirts of a city.

Ornate Hall in the Ducal Palace has been modified into a private club on the stage with a bridge kind of a construction. The bridge makes it possible to introduce the different characters in the beginning of the opera for the audience. They climb up the ramp and slide down on a pole back to the stage. The visuals in the beginning of the 1st act represent the opera stage, they are diegetic material of the Opera house itself.

The second act is a modernistic salon in the Ducal Palace. The construction allows voyeuristic games in the drama, the holes in the walls function also as entrances for the choir/Duka’s court.

The third act is a postindustrial multipurpose construction which holds inside diverse functional spaces. It has a garage, bordello, living room/waiting area and transitional spaces. It is the last space/place before the end of the opera which happens in the rooftop of the building. The construction sinks to the cellar under the stage after the contract killer, Sparafucile, and her sister, Maddalena, have stabbed the principal character, Gilda. Characteristic for the fifth space which is a parking place is modern emptiness, it is not a place to spend time, it is a place for transition, a nonsite.