The Marriage of Figaro | Set design

The Marriage of Figaro | Set design


I wanted the space to have a sort of
opulence, I wanted it to be a grand world – a world where the roles of the characters,
from the Count and Countess down to the footman, has a place.
It’s faded grandeur, which I think has a sort of energy, and it fits
the piece because there’s a melancholy underneath the comedy. I’m Leslie Travers, the set designer for
The Marriage of Figaro at Opera North. Rather than creating a space that’s
jolly to look at with bright colours, more interestingly I think the comedy
really works in a space that has a sort of sense of decay, where
the world’s all about to change, and this old house with all its leaks and
the rain constantly coming down is eventually just going to fall down
around the people in it and they’ll move on. There are many things to take into
account before you start the design process for this piece. It’s a
piece that happens over one day so there’s a kind of drive to it. The
first thing I had to deal with is how we give that sense of
urgency. The scene changes are very integral to the narrative – even in those
moments where it’s purely music and people moving around, I think we’ve been
able to keep the narrative drive. The characters, even when they walk off stage,
you see that journey through the door quite often and I think that’s really
exciting because it gives you the workings of the house – the house is a
machine. It’s interesting doing a piece that a
lot of people know, because it comes with quite a lot of baggage,
because people have expectations and people have their favourite production
that they saw and they measure it against that quite often. The most
important thing is that you serve the piece and dig into the piece and find
out what it’s about, and almost not worry about what’s gone before and the way other
people have done it. We have quite a big ‘rain effect’ in the piece.
That’s quite exciting because I feel it actually really really works. It’s another kind of
barrier, but unlike a wall or a curtain it isolates the characters in an
interesting way. I made the wallpaper. It was made on my laptop –
it took about eight days to get the actual print right, then it was printed
incredibly big, and then it was painted into, so it’s been quite a long process
but I think it sustains and it pays off – that sort of texture, but sort of water
stains and some falling off the wall and just looked really interesting – it had a
sort of melancholy. People I really admire really push things – they take
risks. I think you have to put yourself so close to failure to succeed!
I love the piece, I’ve seen it many many times and I always think there’s a lot
to explore in it and that’s why it was such a wonderful opportunity to be able
to come and do it at Opera North. you

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