Olafur Eliasson and a French opera of forbidden love

The artist and Phaidon author is overseeing the stage, set and costume design for an opera with Sir Simon Rattle
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Olafur Eliasson works on his new opera set. Image courtesy of Olafur's Instagram
Olafur Eliasson works on his new opera set. Image courtesy of Olafur's Instagram

Hippolyte et Aricie, the 18th century French opera by Jean-Phillipe Rameau, is a tale of darkness and light. The story focusses on Hippolyte, son of the mythical Greek king Theseus, and his love for Aricie, the daughter of Theseus’s enemy. 

In the past, the opera’s cast has been dressed in classical costumes, or French baroque clothing, to reflect the era in which Rameau lived. However, a new production, opening at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden on 25 November, has brought the story up-to-date with the help of one of the world’s leading contemporary artists, Olafur Eliasson

 

Olafur Eliasson and Simon Rattle trying out costumes for the new opera. Image courtesy of Olafur's Instagram
Olafur Eliasson and Simon Rattle trying out costumes for the new opera. Image courtesy of Olafur's Instagram

The Danish-Icelandic artist is overseeing the set, stage and costume design for the production, which is being conducted by Simon Rattle. Olafur has only shared images from the developmental stage of his design work, but if these are anything to go by, the audience is in for a treat. There are lasers, mirrors, coloured lights, and all manner of simple, but effective, experiential optical trickery. Olafur and the conductor even posed with huge mirrored hats. Will Rattle be bouncing light around the auditorium, as he wields his baton? We’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out. 

 

Olafur Eliasson: Experience

Until then, you can discover more about Olafur’s varied and effective artistic practice, by ordering a copy of Olafur Eliasson: Experience here.


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