Text: Lune Visser
The set as art or art as the set. An ingenious installation of metal frames, light strips, mirrors and images painted onto different materials, artist Philipp Fürhofer’s set design for soon-to-be-performed opera Lohengrin is fit for a museum. We met up with Puck Rudolph, Deputy Head of the Production Workshop, to discuss the production process and the structure.
Puck: ‘At the Production Workshop, we start preparing for productions as early as a year before they’re scheduled to be performed. We sit down with the set designer to talk about the concept, we build a scale model, and we figure out how to transpose the model to the actual stage. Once we’ve decided on a plan, I test and order the materials. And when the materials have come in – at the right scale – the actual building work can start.’
‘It’s like standing between two mirrors that face each other in a changing room’
‘It’s always really exciting to get down to the nuts and bolts of a design and to work with different materials. This particular set piece for Lohengrin, for instance, is no less than 20 metres wide and six metres high. The front and back frames are made of metal. They hold in place the different materials, such as mirror foil and transparent layers of mesh. We painted tree trunks on one layer of gauze and loose branches on another. Thanks to the mirror foil and the light boxes that have been placed between the metal frames, the images are reflected and reproduced repeatedly. It’s like standing between two mirrors that face each other in a changing room. The reflection within the mirrors creates smaller and smaller reflections, seemingly extending to infinity.. This set-up makes it look as if there are trees everywhere, growing ever smaller towards the back. With this, we create the illusion of a 3D-type of forest.’
‘Because this really is a Philipp Fürhofer signature piece – he is known for these kinds of installations – Philipp personally came to the Production Workshop to help our painters fine-tune the final details of the images painted on the gauze. A finishing touch – to truly see the forest for the trees!’
- Lohengrin can be seen by Dutch National Opera at Dutch National Opera & Ballet from November 11 through December 3, 2023.