Barkow Leibinger, Fidelio Opera Set in Vienna (Austria)
Photos: Iwan Baan
The only opera that Ludwig van Beethoven wrote, Fidelio, has not ceased to attract music connoisseurs since it premiered in Vienna in 1805. For the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth, the Theater an der Wien has presented – with set designs by the architect Frank Barkow and stage direction by Christoph Waltz – a new production of the work: an imposing set shaped like a double helix that evokes the prison near Seville where the action takes place. Marked by chiaroscuros, this stepped double helix rises dramatically from the floor to form a topography that is constructional, formal, musical, theatrical, and symbolic all at once. Constructional because it takes up the entire stage in a single stroke; formal because it provides a dramatic counterpoint to the Viennese theater’s ‘Italian horseshoe’ set-up; musical because it frames and protects the soloists and chorus; theatrical because it accommodates the intricate vicissitudes of the protagonists; and symbolic because it creates a dark and sublime atmosphere much in tune with the heroic tone of Fidelio.
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