Practical application

The Design Process of Orfeo
( La Favola D'Orfeo)


by Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Text by Alessandro Striggio

But that was long before when Orpheus played,
And golden hands on golden strings made golden tones.
1
R.H. Morrison 31st Jan 1960

Elder School of Music
Adelaide University
Union Hall
11th - 15th June 2002


Photographs by Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski, Derek Jolly and Ian Macdonald

A discussion of the process and influences in the Set Design of Monteverdi's Orfeo in relation to the work of Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski. A practical application of the research into the work of the artist and an extension of his directions and ideals.

 

The Design Process

Page Index

  1. The Production Team

  2. History

  3. Observation - The Creative Process

  4. The Importance of Research

  5. Production Considerations
    Language
    The Legend
    Australian Context
    Specific Research
    Period
    Costume
    Season
    Physical Necessities
    Visual Images
    Painting in Light

  6. The Opera
    Act I
    Act II
    Act III

 

Orfeo stage views, Bremner Production, Union Hall, University of Adelaide. 2002

The Production Team

 

 

Director

Tessa Bremner

Music Director

Carl Crossin

Set Design

Ian Macdonald

Costume Design

Morag Cook

Lighting Design

Daniel Pryzabilla

Audio Visual Design

Joel Beclu

Images/Photography

Joel Beclu and Ian Macdonald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts, have their root in Greece.
[Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792-1822]

Introduction

The opportunity to launch into the theatrical unknown and to explore the process of tradition, discovery and application is one of the most confronting, taxing and yet rewarding processes available to the creative artist. Add to this the unique foibles of the operatic genre and the process becomes the creation of an enclosed world, held together by the common thread of music and visual spectacle with the demigods of the particular creation taking their place in the evolutionary processes of the genre. There is no question that the process could be the equivalent of the creationist theory in which the universe is created within the space of a few days. The process is, however, connected more to reality of the evolution of the world as we know it. It is a matter of trial and error, tradition and excellence and of steady process along whatever path the common threads leads. The production of an event within the operatic world, for a short time, in a confined space, produces a view of the whole of this enclosed reality with the need for insight into the past and knowledge that the future will continue its evolutionary path.

When one is involved in such a production with the added bonus of a cast and crew of emerging talents, the process is certainly elevated to a position of importance in this evolution. While there are new opportunities for expression, the genre is flexible enough to allow for experimentation and as there is a supply of new and unfettered practitioners the evolution will continue in one form or another until a new and more satisfying universe is created.

 

 


Frontispiece of the earliest copy of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo

History

Monteverdi's Orfeo was first produced in Mantua at the Accademia degl'Invaghitti, in February 1607 making it, not the first opera but perhaps the most successful opera in the then short history of the art form. It was indeed the second opera to be based on the Orphic legends with Peri's Euridice appearing in the year 1600. The Camerata, a group of aristocratic composers of the late sixteenth century, declared the intention to reproduce the combination of words and music which had been the basis of Greek Theatre.

Orfeo is a landmark within operatic history and according to Kobbe, in this opera Monteverdi was able to build on the foundations which had been laid by the Florentine Camerata. Kobbe quotes Professor Westrup describing the work as important not because it broke new ground but because in it imagination took control of theory.2

 

 

 

Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain-topsthat freeze,
Bow themselves when he did sing.

William Shakespeare, Henry VIII Act 3 Sc. 1, L.3


Orpheus pleading with Pluto and Proserpina to restore Euridice to him.

 

 

 

   

Classical Pillars for inspiration. Giovanni Paolo Pannini
1691-1765

 

 

 

Orpheus, Union Hall, Adelaide University, 1968 production for the Elder Conservatorium of Music.

 

 

 

Orpheus

Spinning upon his tongue that golden thread
Of song, comes Orpheus now to measure out
The sunless paths that lead him to his bride.
His music charms the locks from the iron gate
That guards the netherworld; his lyric hands
Unravel on the strings love's golden skein;
He follows where unbroken music winds
Its toils about her like a soft cocoon.

And there in that house of dreams, she lies alone;
The spool is turned; she follows note by note
The golden thread that hauls her to the sun,
And shakes the dust like gold stars from her feet.

O now at last, his soul's embodied song
Returns to the flesh that gave it woman's form,
The lineaments that like soft echoes bring
Her wild and sensual music back to him.
He turns; one backward glance reveals her face
Withered beneath his gaze; and stricken dumb,
He breaks that precious thread and stops the voice
That bound them, song and singer, in one loom.

A cold wind sweeps the strings; arpeggios
Scatter; a transient butterfly alights
Where still at the cadence of all melodies

His golden-limbed Eurydice dreams and waits.

David Malouf
(
written for the1960
Sound and Image Production of Orpheus)

 

Observation: The Creative Process

 

It is the intention of this discussion to detail the particular production of Monteverdi's Orfeo at the Adelaide University in 2002, but it is also important to indicate the relevance of the amount and type of research that took place in the concepts and final design of the sets for the production.

It is worth considering the elements that combine in the creative process. Although these vary from artist to artist and from production to production, there are some that are common to most artists and situations. The artistic process is the result of necessity, technology, intuition, experience and chance or serendipity.

  • The necessity is the product of the situation in which the artist is employed to produce a particular work and in which the artist needs to be involved in order to fulfil the need to create. Often this need is determined by outside forces providing both stimulus and constraints (financial, physical and artistic) for the work. This could be the production of a visual work for a particular occasion, a musical composition commissioned for a particular purpose, or if there are no others involved in the process the necessity is driven by the personal need to create, to produce such works as are produced simply because they are to be created.

  • The technology to be employed in the creative process is often the result of the experiential work of the artist's predecessors and their dedication to expanding their own techniques and range of possibilities. It is true also that the technology needed for a particular situation is not necessarily available within the experience and knowledge of the particular artist and situation. This need then enables the artist to combine and focus the collected attributes of the group to the artistic process. In this it is necessary for the various elements of the process to be complimentary and not in conflict. If conflict arises there is a need for discussion, mediation and sometimes compromise. Technology can also be used for its own sake with the ubiquitous special effects ruinning the danger of replacing the imagination and involvement of the audience. The technology can be as simple as a pencil and paper or as complex as the computer driven machines available within the theatrical genre in recent years. It is apparent that the complexity of extreme technology is often used to the detriment of the final production by building in an artificial feel to the work and by the chance that the technology will fail at a crucial moment. The use of technology often produces an impossible strain on budgets when machinery fails and needs to be replaced, when unusual machinery needs to be obtained either by purchase or by hire. Of these the chance of failure is, perhaps the most worrying. It is the element of chance in combination with technology that cannot be reckoned with except by increasing the cost by duplication of elements of the technology.

  • Intuition is the element that determines whether a particular concept will be appropriate for the particular situation. Here the process is enhanced by the certainty that the other elements devised for the project are those that are most relevant and appropriate for the perfection of the final product. Intuition is the element that allows the artist to understand a process or combination of processes that have not been used before and to produce a work of originality.

  • Of all the listed elements of the artistic process, experience is the one over which the artist has the most control. Here it is possible to develop expertise invaluable to the artistic process. It is not only the work based experience that is of importance. It is also the life time of observation, association and experience that allows the artist to arrive at the right time and with the right qualifications combining to provide the personal and unique elements required for the artistic process.

  • The most allusive element of the artistic process is that of serendipity. This is the element of chance, tempered and recognised by experience, that assists the end product of ground breaking possibilities. Of all the elements this one is the least predictable but by definition is the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. 3 This, or the lack of it, can be the the element that conspires to make the work a success in the eye of the critic and a dismal flop in the opinions of the potential audience or abysmal according to the expert who writes the presumptive truth that attracts audiences in droves.

Thus in the overall process it is the combination of the need for the creative expression, experience in the genre, coupled with the availability and practical knowledge of materials, people and appropriate technology, mixed with the immeasurable quantities of both intuition and serendipity, that allow a project to be successful.

It is intended to draw parallels between this production of Monteverdi's Orfeo and the various productions based on the Orphean legends in which Stan Ostoja-Kotkowski was involved. The legend of Orpheus has been the subject of many forms of dramatisation and the subject of countless stories since their origin in written form in the works of Virgil (70-19BC) and Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid) (43BC-AD17) and others of the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds. 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orpheus

That was the singular mine of souls,
Like still silver ores they went
As veins travelling its dark. Between roots
Was the source of the blood, that gave forth to men
And heavy like porphyry it seemed in the dark
Further nothing red

Rocks were there
And unreal woods. Bridges over voids
And yonder huge, grey, blind loch
That over its far background hung
Like rainy skies above the landscape.
And between meadows, of the mild and full forbearance,
Appeared the pale strip of the single road
Laid in like a long pallor

Rainer Maria Rilke
(Trans. Stephen Spender)
used as script in the 1960
Sound and Image production of Orpheus.

 

 


Backdrop painting, Orpheus, Union Hall, University of Adelaide 1968. Elder Conservatorium of Music

 

 

 

Ostoja painting flats, Orpheus, Union Hall,1968. Elder Conservatoium of Music.

 

 

 

Painted and projected sets, Orpheus, Union Hall,1968. Elder Conservatorium of Music.

 

 

 

Classical images tableau , Orpheus, Union Hall,1968. Elder Conservatorium of Music.

 

 

Orpheus, Union Hall, 1968. Adelaide University, Elder Conservatorium of Music.

 

 

 

Multiple image photography, Orpheus, Union Hall,1968. Elder Conservatorium of Music.

 

 

 

Classical costuming, Orpheus, Union Hall,1968. Elder Conservatorium of Music.

 

 

 

Orpheus, Union Hall,1968. Elder Conservatorium of Music.

 

 

 

Classical image tableau, Orpheus, Union Hall,1968. Elder Conservatorium of Music.

 

 

 

Orpheus, Union Hall,1968. Elder Conservatorium of Music.

 

 

 

Projected images from the Ostoja/Jolly production of Orpheus in 1960. Union Hall, Adelaide University

 

 

 

 

 


The 1960 sound and Image production of Orpheus showing the projected images. Lorraine Irving (left) as Euridice and Max
Collis as Orpheus.


The 1960 sound and Image production of Orpheus showing the cyclorama upon which the projected images were projected . Lorraine Irving (reclining, centre stage) as Euridice and Max Collis as Orpheus (downstage) . Note the costumes of the chorus dancers on the high leve, upstage.



The Importance of Research in the Production of Orfeo.

One finds, within a production, the opinion that the importance of the music, for the operatic music director, or the stage direction for the director, or the costumes, lighting or set design, for the respective designers is regarded as themost important facet of the production. In reality the combination of all these offices is a symbiotic balance where no one element is possible without the others. While the stage director has the ultimate decision in most matters each department has its own beliefs, integrity and responsibilities.

It is no less important, for instance, that the designer of a production should carry out an intensive investigation of the medium, than that of the director, music director and the costume designer. An opera production relies not only on the music, including composer, singers, music director and orchestra, but is equally reliant for its relevance and acceptance on the direction of the whole and, what can be simply described as, the "place" or locus. This term "place" is intended to mean the foundation onto which the dramatic process can take place and includes the sets and their relationship to costuming and the properties supporting the cast and the dramatic action of the particular production.

In an overall documentation of the work of Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski there was the opportunity to apply concepts and adapt ideas of this artist to the production of Orfeo for the Elder School of Music. With examples of works centred around the same subject matter as Orfeo, but based within both the same and differing visual art genres, there is an opportunity to discover more depth in the design process than is perhaps available if discovering the legends on which the opera is based for the first time. The process is both forward looking and retrospective, with research into the life and performances of an artist such as Ostoja done before such a production as Orfeo, one is armed with a catalogue of techniques that have proved successful in the past. With the practical application and extension of such techniques, and then, in the safety of hind sight, it is possible to discover that basic techniques evolve ideas that run in parallel even if the initial connections were not made.

There is, within a study of the work of Ostoja, the possibility of discovering this artist's thoughts within the process of design because, firstly he was a meticulousrecord keeper of all aspects of his work 5 and because he was a controversial character, often interviewed by the media including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the print media including news media, popular magazines and also trade magazines concerning the particular technology that the artist incorporated into his works. Ostoja enjoyed this attention and used the opportunities of this media preoccupation to both promote the works on which he was engaged at any one time and to prepare audiences for his intentions for the future. He was able to manipulate the interest in his career to his own benefit. The very nature of the works in which he was engaged attracted the attention of audiences outside the usual art audiences and, as such, also attracted attention from less conventional print media.

The body of information thus preserved provides the present designer with some insight into the process and the needs for the design of an opera based within the Orphean legends. For example, Ostoja describes the Sound and Image production Orpheus in Union Hall in 1960 as a combination of music, poetry, sound, movement and photographed images projected on a screen. 6 He also indicated that he was not able to produce all these aspects personally and he engaged the assistance and artistic input of such people as Derek Jolly, a wealthy entrepreneur and patron with a supply of photographic materials, cameras, projection equipment and sound amplifiers; and Max Collis, who was well known within the Adelaidian context for his extensive work in ballet and dance. 7 He also incorporated the works, often purpose commissioned of other available artists including for the 1960 production several young poets who showed promise at the time. These included Rob Morrison, Harold Stewart and David Malouf. 8 The symbiotic relationships working towards a common goal in such a venture ensure are essential if a satisfactory outcome is to be enjoyed by those involved and for those who come to share the demonstration of the work.

With little monetary support for productions in the sixties there was a reliance on the enthusiasm of those involved and this, perhaps, also added to the popularity within the audiences in Adelaide who were keen to experience the always exciting works of this circle of artists. Many of those involved brought their own circle of disciples and audiences. Newspaper articles promised electronically-controlled lights that would express the complex emotions of Orpheus as he prepared to follow his lover down into the underworld and later in the death scene. In the era of pre-computer controlled lighting and sound, this promise, and the promotion of this aspect was bound to attract a wide-eyed, expectant public.

Ostoja stated his considered belief that the obvious was not art. He stated that the creative artist must merely suggest and stimulate the viewer with subtly wrought effects, then leave him to interpret what he sees for himself. 9 He also stated at this time that he was not worried if the public fails initially to understand his works . The expectation that the audience would eventually understand the abstract nature of his work meant that they would be stimulated to use their imagination and would be able to grasp the concept presented. This meant that Ostoja would always have an audience as they learned to understand existing works and then to face the challenge of his new works. Ostoja was always able to stay one lap ahead, recruiting a following of diverse audiences who were not always those considered to be the usual theatre goers.

He attracted those who were technically minded, those with little experience in the conventions in theatre and art and he especially attracted the young, perhaps reflecting the constantly changing post war world. Perhaps this also was reflected in the fact that the Adelaide Festival of Arts, which began in 1960, had audiences willing to support the variety of productions of the Festivals both then and well into the future.

Within a study Ostoja-Kotkowski's work it is also of interest to consider that in 1960 alone this artist, in addition to the experimental Sound and Image production of Orpheus, had designed the sets for Minotti's opera The Telephone, Berkeley's Dinner Engagement and Hoiby's The Scarfe (based on the story by Chekov) all for the Intimate Opera Company (later the State Opera of South Australia). For theatre he designed the sets for Colin Ballantyne's production of Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (by Errol John), The Adelaide University Theatre Guild's Teahouse of the August Moon (by John Patrick) and Sheridan's School for Scandal. With the enthusiastic support of Professor John Bishop, Ostoja was able to apply his concept of "abstracted" scenery to Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. He rounded out the year with Britten's Turn of the Screw at Adelaide University Union Hall. The addition to this workload of his photography and painting and other works in that year provides an indication of the extensive work capabilities and output of this extraordinary artist.

It is significant that the education that Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski enjoyed in Poland before the onset of the Second World War and the art education in Europe after the war left an understanding and love of the Greek Legends and in particular, the legend of Orpheus and Euridice. Ostoja performed and designed several works based on these stories, including two scripts for film, an incomplete film, his first Sound and Image production and the opera Orpheus written by Christoph Gluck (1714-1787), the latter two produced in The Union Hall of the University of Adelaide and, the last, produced for the Elder Conservatorium of Music.

Davidson, when discussing the work Ostoja and he produced on a 35mm film based on the Orphean legend, describes the subject as a favourite theme of Stan's. 10 Davidson and Ostoja worked on the film but soon lost interest because the acting was inadequate and the shooting tended to be spontaneous. He suggests that the film script that Ostoja had written earlier in Melbourne and based on the Orphean legend, was an excellent post-war expressionist script which he, Davidson, felt would have been much more successful than the one on which they worked together with its less structured aleatoric form. One wonders whether this opinion was shared by Ostoja or is an expression of Davidson's own thoughts as he was the more conservative and perhaps less artistically daring of the two. Davidson was, perhaps, less spontaneous than Ostoja and preferred the safety of script and written format and this may have affected his assessment of the works. Ostoja was never afraid of moving from the conventional allowing the chance element to dictate the path that a work was to take.

In the Sound and Image production of Orpheus in 1960 Ostoja commissioned several poets to write works for the event. These included R.H. Morrison, Harold Stewart, Edwin Muir and David Malouf. It is interesting to discover the words of poets written at a time when their careers were not established ahead of, in some instances, international literary careers. The production's programme describes the work as combining Music, poetry, ballet, visual images and compositions for lights. It included such innovations (for the time) as rear projection, a combination light reacting to music, poetry and recorded voice, live projection of changing images, and "quadraphonic" sound. This latter, upon recent enquiry of the sound designer and engineer for the production, Graham Milne, would probably have been better describes as several stereo images playing at the same time rather than true quadraphonic sound. 11 This production used the very latest sound, lighting and photographic equipment available in the world collected by Derek Jolly and Graham Milne 12 on a photographic and auditory exploratory tour of Europe. There was, according to Jolly, Ostoja and Davidson, no other equipment of equal quality in Australia at the time.

Perhaps in keeping with Ostoja's search for the light he had experienced in the desert regions he took the opportunity to include a "colour organ" in this production of Orpheus, which produced patterns of light, composed and played by Nancy Claridge 13 Davidson makes the note that this style of instrument had been used in the Bauhaus by the Master of the Light Shows, German/Australian artist Hirschfeld-Mack, one of the most influencial members of the who eventually taught art at Geelong Grammar in the 1950's. 14 Perhaps he fact that there was an awareness and appreciation of the works of the German artist's work in light and sound was a trigger for Ostoja's development of light-based set design.

This programme was so complex in performance that a note was included in the programme to the effect that the technical effects relied on various pieces of machinery and, while it was of the highest quality, the management hoped that there would be no delays caused by breakdown of equipment. In this matter there has been little change in the intervening years and despite the enormous technical advances in sound and lighting there is probably more opportunity for breakdown now than even in the early years of Ostoja's career.

Ostoja also had problems with lighting in his 1960 production of Orpheus as the lighting team 15 had determined to use ultraviolet light to produce the characteristic effect of this light on bleached white objects and materials. Bleached paper, for instance, contains the chemical Tinopal® (which absorbes ultra-violet light and converts it to visible light) which glows under this light and so the dancers, in the scene where "beasts and devils" and supposedly Orpheus, were being torn to pieces by the legendary women of Thrace (Bacchantes) they were costumed in white toilet paper. The design intention was that the material of the costumes would be obscured and unrecognisable as such but to be effective when the destruction of the bodies took place. However, when there was a complaint that the dancers could not be seen properly, with the resultant increase in standard light, the costumes could be seen for what they actually were.16

The design for the production under discussion of Monteverdi's Orfeo for the Elder School of Music, was based around research into the Orpheus legend and into the design principles expressed by the Ostoja-Kotkowski and on his various Sound and Image productions and opera set designs for presentations based on the Orphic legend.

 

 

 

 

 

The Death of Orpheus

After the pluck of darkness at his sleeve,
That glimpse, as he turned, of her transfigured face
Receding, with its long sigh of farewell,
These wild-limbed, drunken revellers, who shout
For alien music, cannot make him play;
The golden strings are tangled and lie dumb.

His lyre had charmed Euridice to love,
And from death's dark, untravelled wilderness
Had led her, note by note, as the golden spool
Of song unwound its thread. How could he fit
An alien music to those strings, when she
Alone, Euridice, had been their theme?

He shatters the lyric frame that was a hive
For honeybees and bore his golden voice.
Now silence is the nobler part; his soul
Is still. Though wine-dark fingers tear the mute
Body and cast the broken lyre away,
His tongue goes singing on love's deathless stream.

David Malouf
Written for the Ostoja/Jolly 1960
production of Orpheus

Production Considerations

Language

Even in the early days of opera, the composers involved expressed the need, as a primary consideration, for the text of the opera to be intelligible to the audience. Although this refers specifically to the clarity of the text within the musical context, it also, perhaps can be interpreted as referring to the ability of the audience to understand the story, the drama and what the singers are, in fact, singing about. The inevitable debate that ensues is that of the importance of the text being sung in the vernacular of the audience.

In the context of a production at the present time and in a University setting such as the project at present under consideration, this would mean that the choice of language would have been, and perhaps, should have been, English instead of the original Italian. It is possible that the elitist reputation that opera has earned within the Australian context and wider, has been in part due to the inaccessibility of the text to the society in general. There have been many surveys done where audiences are asked their preferences as to the language of the opera. In most cases these have been with regular and familiar opera-goers who have knowledge of the genre, the particular story of an opera and the common operatic languages. These have generally favoured the language of the original work and have been specific in some details. Familiar audiences tend to prefer the star system where a Callas or a Witte, singing in their own and other familiar languages. This is seen as preferable to a struggle with a less familiar English. On the other hand composers have often been quoted as expressing a preference that their works should be understood by the audiences and therefore sung in the vernacular. These composers include Verdi, Puccini and even the arch-typical German opera composer, Wagner. In a country such as Australia where there is a mono-linguistic culture and where opera attendance is largely restricted by box office prices and by education to an elitist circle, there should be perhaps more understanding and sympathy with the ability of the audience to understand rather than a dictatorial, purist attitude which could be seen as limiting the availability of opera to a new and modern audience. It is perhaps important in the future of opera in Australia that there is some understanding of the culture of the potential audiences and not just that of the already converted. Despite this Orfeo was sung in Italian!

As a general thing we find that the ancient myths do not give us a simple and consistent story; consequently it should occasion no surprise if we find, when we put the ancient accounts together, that in some details they are not in agreement with those given by every poet and historian.

[Diodorus Siculus, 80-20 BC, 4.44.5] 17

 

The Legend - The Opera

With the words of Diodorus Siculus in mind it becomes apparent that the libretto of Monteverdi's Orfeo differs from the myth as set down by Ovid and others who wrote of the legends and cemented the stories into human experience and art. In this opera the legend of Orpheus is one of passionate love, determined spirit and ultimate failure of the main character to succeed in his mission to restore his lover to life. Orfeo, the son of the God of Music, Apollo, is in love with Euridice and their forthcoming marriage celebrated by the shepherds and nymphs of Thrace. The joy of their marriage soon turns to woe as a messenger arrives and explains that Euridice, picking flowers to make a garland, had been bitten by a serpent and has died. Orfeo is overcome with sorrow and determined to travel to the underworld to beg Plutone (Pluto/Hades), God of the Underworld, to allow his love to return to the world and to life.

 

Plutone and Proserpina in the Underworld. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

 

 

 

True Love

Orfeo, Orpheus and Euridice, Cast 1, 11th June 2002
Union Hall, Adelaide University. Bremner Production

 

 

True Love

 

 

The Blessing

 

 

The wedding, full cast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   
   
   
   
   

Plutone and his wife, Proserpina, discuss the plight of Orfeo and she pleads with her husband that Euridice should be allowed to return to the world above. Pluto relents and declares that, due to his wife's love and entreaties, he will allow the young wife to return to the world and happiness. He does, however, command that Orfeo must trust that Euridice is following and that he must not look at her as they ascend from the underworld. They are almost at the end of their ascent when Orfeo is disturbed by a sound that he thinks may be produced by Plutone's furies intending harm to his lover. He forgets Plutone's command and turn, only to see her taken back to the underworld. He has been the agent whereby his love has suffered death a second time. He wanders the plains of Thrace lamenting and pleading with nature to join him in his sorrow. It is here that the accepted legend of the hero is varied from the the operatic story. With the need for a happy ending Monteverdi's opera used Apollo, Orfeo's father, from the heavens and the hapless son rises to immortality with his father with the promise that he will be able to see his love in the stars for all eternity. This is perhaps the first usage of deus ex machina, the flying in such a god in opera. A triumphant chorus finishes the opera.

Kobbe is careful to note that the original libretto by Striggio finished with the more traditional, and less triumphant, tearing apart of Orfeo's body by the women of Thrace, tired of the unceasing music lamenting the demise of Euridice. It is said that the women buried his bones in a place around which the nightingales, taught by the grave's musical occupant, sing a more beautiful song.

The design for the production of Monteverdi's Orfeo for the Elder School of Music, was based around research into the Orphic legend and into the design principles expressed by the Ostoja-Kotkowski and on his various Sound and Image productions and opera set designs for presentations based on the Orphic legend.

As with many theatre productions within the Australian context, and perhaps especially within the Australian university community, which has, in the past been a bastion of experimental, controversial and indeed, classical theatre, whether as organised within the curriculum or as associated productions, there are constraints that dictate the availability of expertise, materials and access to time and place. Making worthwhile personal and experimental advancements within the genre is becoming more difficult. The theatre world, except for the top of the industry, thus relies on the expertise and the goodwill of those who want to be involved and those who for reasons of workplace or curriculum, find themselves involved. For a director, designer or other members of a production team to succeed they are often forced to accept conditions, assistance and recompense below the standard of a decade ago They must generally expend much more of their own time and resources in the process than should be necessary in order to succeed. There is, however, an expectation now that the artist needs to survive in a world where the dollar is all-important and, unlike the productions in which Ostoja was involved, there is some monetary recompense for work expended within the theatre. If considered by the amount of training, experience, ingenuity and number of hours expended on a project, there are few who can claim that they are adequately compensated.

With few exceptions, the various institutions involved in the technical training of young hopefuls of lucrative career paths in theatre, seem to have put emphases on some of the less desirable aspects of the industrial relationships within the theatre industry and are not passing on the traditions and perhaps the magic, the development of the serendipitous, that theatre once had and should have still. There is perhaps too much concern for the reasons why processes to the detriment of risk taking and the creativity and experimentation that the industry's ambience once engendered. The adverse reasons that severely reduce the satisfaction of working in the theatre industry include an over zealous attention to safety and demarcation of workers beyond all reasonable expectation. Processes that have been in practice for many years now need specialised qualification to be included in a production. This in itself requires the payment of valuable funds to, for instance, a technician who may only be required to operate a particular effect for two or three minutes but whose fees per performance may mean the cancellation of a particular sequence, no matter how necessary it is to the overall process. In this proposition there is no suggestion that there should be a disregard of physical safety matters, but the anecdotal dangers of major theatre productions have been and are being passed on to the small space productions, without allowance for the change in scale and the nature of the spectacle. With the request from the director in the recent production that, for instance, the God Apollo should descend from a catwalk above the stage as his entrance, the production manager of Orfeo was unable to arrange permission for a sporting and abseiling God to arrive from above. The process was safe according to the abseiling team of the Adelaide University but not in insurance-bound thoughts of Staff of the Centre for the Performing Arts .

The training of these young technicians is also encouraging the attitude that they are a closed group and unable to participate in the overall production values. The "us and them" attitude brings conflict between themselves and the others involved in a production. In major theatre this can be an advantage where there are adequate numbers of staff employed and where there is a specialist for every situation. In this case a defined and restricted duty ultimately means that the smooth running of a production is assured by non-overlapping duties; every one knows who does what and allows them to do their specific duties. However, in small theatre this attitude denies the ability to ask for help of whatever type and where and when it is needed. Flexibility and initiative is, perhaps, more important where there are limited team numbers in small theatre productions, where it is necessary to overlap duties as the need arises. Small theatre will make short shrift of those whose attitudes are limiting and restrictive.

There is apparent also within the training institutions for technical theatre and design a fear of the application of the term "artist". The training seems to be restricted to the mundane rather than the intuitive. There is a fear instilled in the young technicians of using initiative producing an inability to listen and absorb concepts and a limit in the element of artistic risk-taking that has been the adrenalin rush of past excursions into the theatrical unknown.

With notable exceptions, the inability to research a production, including storyline, style, opportunity and materials, is often found to be lacking in the present regime of theatre education. This aspect of process seems to be ignored in the training of young technicians and designers although this varies with the initiative shown by different individuals and some of the training institutions. Preparation of a work is an intensive process and must be undertaken with rigour and exactitude. With modern resources, especially the use of the Internet, it is relatively easy to discover information about a particular subject, including style, precedent, period and materials, without much exertion.

The result of this lack was very evident in parts of the production process in relation to Orfeo and from the Centre of Performing Arts who were to provide a backing to the production process, but who showed little sympathy for the process and little expertise in teaching the necessary ingenuity for assistance in such a situation. Within the process of the design and the implementation of the design, where participation from other individuals is required, one must, perhaps, be resigned to the fact that not all share the same enthusiasm and experience and that the final product will be, by necessity, a degree below expectations. With other individuals one can feel the muses smiling as thoughts are combined, concepts accepted and initiative reliable. When this is so the whole far exceeds the sum of the individual inputs. One must be satisfied with what one gets in the long run.

The traditional apprenticeship system of training for theatre workers is one that has survived the rigours of time from the early days of theatre. Techniques of construction, mechanical ingenuity and adaptability, were passed from generation to generation. The mechanics used, for instance, developed and used in pantomime in England enabled the Wagnerian stage to operate spectacularly to the satisfaction of the composer. In Australia, there were many "old timers" who learned their skills by experience and from example and whose knowledge and ingenuity were of the highest standard. The now legendary days of the J.C. Williamson company in Australia, for instance, provided several generations of "technical artists" with the gleaned best practice of world theatre. The replacement of the apprenticeship style of learning with institutionalised curriculum based learning and the devaluing and retirement of the "old timers" has, perhaps, left a serious gap in the collective knowledge within the theatre space.

One wonders how far Ostoja would have been able to progress in a period and theatrical climate where those who were employed to help were under the heavy and cumbersome rules of the theatre today. His millstone came rather from above when his ideas and concepts were either misunderstood, rejected or disregarded by the Adelaidian arts administration only to be accepted either years later, sometimes where their initial impact was watered down by familiarity from elsewhere or used in other places by other artists. Those who assisted on his theatre floor were prepared for the long hours but they had a deal of personal initiative, enthusiasm and expertise.

 

 

Images projected in the 1960 Ostoja/Jolly Production of Orpheus. Union Hall, Adelaide University.

The Australian Context - The Understanding of the Classical Myths within Theatre Audiences.

 
 

 
   

In Australia there are few individuals of the "mature" generations who are ignorant of elements of the classical Greek myths as the Australian Broadcasting Commission had a radio club designed for children between the ages of six and sixteen, called the Argonauts, where listening members were assigned a mythological boat name and number and were enthused to "keep rowing" by the radio presenters. The programme began in 1933 in Melbourne, went national in 1939 and finally finished in April 1972. In 1950 it had a membership of 50,000 and a total membership of 100,000. Many more were regular listeners but did not become members. Their theme was an honest and pure life as they lived out the pledge written by Nina Murdoch the originator of the programme.

 

Before the sun and the night and the blue sea, I vow to stand faithfully by all that is brave and beautiful; to seek adventure, and having discovered aught of wonder, or delight; of merriment or loveliness, to share it freely with my comrades, the Band of Happy Rowers.

Perhaps now, more than thirty years after the demise of the Argonauts the programme would be considered grossly "uncool" by those of equivalent ages of the membership, but the adventures of the classical heroes and the news of other members around Australia, instilled an imagination and feeling of belonging in each listener, no matter in which part of the country they happened to be habitually glued to their radios. The art of listening to the voices and stories of the Heroes, developing young vivid, individual, imaginative pictures of the search for the Golden Fleece has survived the years. The replacement of the radio programme by stories in full visual and audio completeness in the modern media perhaps produces a collective and controlled image rather than the individual variations allowed by sound alone. It is perhaps this enthusiasm for the Greek legends that gives older generations of Australian audiences an understanding of the story of the production under scrutiny.

It is true also that there was some interest from the educators of the young Australian with the emphasis on Greek and Roman Myths in the monthly magazines that once were circulated both within the Catholic and Public education systems at least in the Eastern states of Australia. It is apparent also from much of the Australian literature for children of the early to mid twentieth century that stories such as Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie and the Gumnut Babies, were based on the heroic mythological adventures of the ancient world.

Countering the general familiarity of previous generations of Australia, it was interesting to observe, in the context of the production of Orfeo, that there were few of the cast and younger members of the production crew, almost without exception below the age of twenty-five, who had previous knowledge of the Orphean legends. They were of a different education era from those who were the organisers of the project. In contrast, those in the audience, generally of the previous generation, were able to relate the story to their education and general knowledge. For those of a musical background and especially those who had studied singing, the arias from the various Orpheus operas have been standard repertoire over the years. For instance, they were very popular in the era of the Sun Aria awards where perhaps too many young performers presented "I have lost my Euridice again" from Gluck's Orpheo ed Euridice, made popular by the famous Australian singer Marjorie Lawrence, whose life and career were an inspiration to generations of young Australian performers.

Within the Adelaide context there have been, especially in the Union Theatre of Adelaide University many performances including theatre, ballet and opera based on the Orpheus legends. These include the three productions for the Elder Conservatorium of Music (two designed by Ostoja Kotkowski) and the Jolly/Ostoja Sound and Image production with the incorporation of Max Collis' ballet company, a assortment of artists of a range of genre and other performance groups.

Specific Research - Orphic Legends

Electronic Research

There are available on the Internet a myriad of sites relating to Greek and Roman mythology, many devoted to Orpheus, his exploits, his heritage and the love between himself and Euridice. These provide a simple and effective way of becoming familiar with the background of the opera in question. Of particular interest were several sites edited by the Oxford University Press The Haifa University 18 , the University of Vermont's Ovid project and other general sites.

These sites provided enough background within the area of research for an adequate knowledge to design the project at hand. In agreement with Kobbe and Diodorus Siculus, it became apparent that there were many variations on the particular details of the legends and these gave food for thought and "permission" for variation and adaptation of story to the particular situation, resources and production values. Indeed, perhaps Monteverdi's intention in sanitising the ending was, as Peter Quince in Shakespeare's A Midsummernight's Dream states when Bottom suggests that he could roar loudly if he were Lion

 

you would fright
the duchess and the ladies,
that they would shriek;

(Act 1 Scene 2);

It is possible that the ending was designed not to offend the gentility of those in his courtly audiences. Altering the ending of the opera also allowed the hero to ascend to the heavens with Apollo, his father, where he would be able to see his lover forever in the stars.

 

 

  Period

A consideration and understanding of the period in which a particular production of a well-known and often performed theatrical work is a starting point at which the design process can begin. The director in this instance, Tessa Bremner, an experienced theatre and opera director, had suggested that it would be difficult, taking into account the budgetary limitations of the production, that the period of the play should be true to either the origins of the opera or to the period of ancient Greek mythology. It was more possible to produce a general, perhaps even indeterminate period piece, allowing for the possibility of unrestricted and imaginative direction (Bremner), costume design (Morag Cook), lighting design (Daniel Prizabilla) and set design (Ian Macdonald).

 

Cast 1 Orpheus and Euridice. Costumes feature wooden inserts. Note Euridice's fragmented violin as part of the costume.

 

 

Chorus costumes of "found" ingredients. Autumn tones.

 

Costumes of minor principals, the Pastore, decorated with bamboo.

 

 

Morag Cook's imaginative costume for the characters La Musica, incorporating music manuscript, notation and quill.

 

 

La Musica and Muses (miming playing of instruments)

 

 

Plutone's expansive costume

 

 

Chorus "found" costumes

 

 

Caronte (Charon) the aged boatman of the River Styx. With Cerberus missing from the Monteverdi opera version of the story, Morag Cook, Costume Designer, added ears and fur to Caronte's costume to ensure the presence of the mythical animal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costumes -Designer Morag Cook

This decision meant that the costuming could draw on existing articles rather than purpose built costumes for all the cast. With a list of nineteen major and minor principals and more than forty chorus members, and in order to stay within the extremely low budget, expenditure was allocated to specific and stylised costuming for the principles, and the collection of existing, mix and match, costumes from cast personal wardrobes and the many "op-shops" in Adelaide.

The costume designer, Morag Cook, a student at the CPA, demonstrated great integrity in her designs, construction and collection of costume materials. Her knowledge of both the operatic medium and the "place" of the work demonstrated also a capacity for detailed research applied in an enthusiastic and particularly adaptive and appropriate manner.

The Season

The season in which this production was to be set was as important in dictating the colours, images and costuming, as was the setting of the individual scenes. The character of Plutone (Hades) and the legend behind him played a major part in the ultimate decision of the season.

 

Hades is not to be soothed, neither overcome, wherefore he is most hated by mortals of all gods. [Agamemnon. Homer, Iliad 9.158]

It was decided that the actual seasonal period in which the performance would take place was autumn. The justification of this was rooted in the Roman and Greek legends where the God of the Underworld, in this case called Plutone, but otherwise both Pluto and Hades, had been infatuated with Proserpina (Persephone). While the young and desirable woman was gathering flowers Plutone emerged in his chariot from a fissure in the ground and abducted her to the underworld. Demeter, Persephone's mother, wife of Zeus, and Goddess of Harvest, was heart broken. While she searched for her daughter the world was engulfed in perpetual winter. Eventually, Plutone was persuaded to release her to the world for half the year but, perhaps with some doubt as to her sincerity in her expressed love for him, he had lured her to eat the seeds of the pomegranate, ensuring that she would return to him. This allowed the world to have spring and summer as a celebration of her presence for half the year, but return to winter's bleakness when she was in the underworld.

As Proserpina (Persephone) interceded on behalf of Orfeo when he pleaded for the return of Euridice, she must have been in the underworld at the time and thus the season in the world could be either winter or autumn. Perhaps the fact that Plutone could be persuaded by Proserpina meant that their reunion was recent and their love for each other renewed. This attractive thought allowed the production to be based in autumn. This, combined with Bremner's ability to produce many dynamic blending tableaux using the large cast, provided a chance for a costume range of gentle autumnal colours. With this serge of colours the set designer decided to allow the basic elements of the set to be neutral in tone with colour provided as described by the movement of the cast on stage and with the addition of changing light colours and images within the staging set pieces.

Physical Necessities

The design process needed to take into account several physical considerations dictated by the opera itself and also by the fact that there was to be a large number of cast members, all of whom had to be seen in the Bremner tableaux. There is little point in the director placing people where they simply cannot be seen. This practicality dictated the need for a variety of levels allowing for entrances and exits, the ability of prominent performers to be seen and the fact that there are many gods depicted through the opera who would, by protocol dictation, need to appear above other lesser members of the mythological hierarchy.

The main raised level was a platform (900mm high, X 1,200mm wide X 7,200mm) across the upstage area. This was finished with a cardboard facade and textured with a mottled stone/marbling effect of greys, pinks and greens, designed to change in texture as the changing direction and colour of the lighting highlighted particular colour areas. Access was from two sets of stairs, not in view of the audience, leading up from behind, at each end of the platform. To make an entrance the performers had to walk, in view of the audience, to the steps and then rise up until standing at platform level.

From the stage left front of the platform was a diagonal ramp supported above the stage by scaffolding underneath. This construction was designed to give an impression of a bridge, or of floating above the surface. It was also used to effect when choreographed figures appeared from beneath. A set of platforms, tiered in parallel with the downstage edge of the ramp, allowed different levels of performers to stand at different heights and another triangular set of three tiered steps from the stage right front edge of the platform. All these aspects of the designs were practical considerations of the production including the number of the cast, line of sight from the audience point of view, and to provide a wide number of different places in which action could take place, making the production potentials as varied as possible.

   

View of the stage in white light. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

View of stage, descending into the Underworld.Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Chorus filling the stage. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Pillar legs capable of grabbing the light colour changes .Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Pillar legs in the blue light of the Underworld. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

 

Pillar legs in the Underworld. Grotesque Spirits visible and distorted through the plastic cylinders. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Projected images of the sprites in the Underworld .Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Use of silhouettes in the Underworld. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Moon seen on the journey to the Underworld. Raw image. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Moon obscured by smoke within the projection screen. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Moon further obscured. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Space image projected during the interval of
Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Carina Nebula image from the Hubble Telescope (NASA) Space image projected during the interval of
Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

 

Visual Images

Ostoja, during his set designing career, changed over time from conventional painted sets, through changing projected still images, to the active and ever changing abstract light projections, a blend of still images, theatre lighting and manipulated laser beam patterns. His early Australian experience of the light in Central Australia and his endless search for equivalent light colours, led him to develop the ability to use light as the way of "painting" his sets. The production of Orfeo was perhaps the opportunity to apply this concept and to work within some of the parameters Ostoja had available to him and with his idea that the "painting" of a theatre set was by the use of light. 19

Without the possibility of laser projectors (due to the cost), it was decided to use computer projection, the modern equivalent of the slide projectors available to Ostoja at the time of his Orpheus productions, and the use of projected light. The availability within the university setting of several computer-driven projectors at no cost, meant that electronic images were in the realm of possibility. How much easier it is to be able to take a digital photograph, and within a few minutes have the image projectable without the time and cost of the conventional slide transparency processes. With the availability of images on the internet that were appropriate to the purposes of the opera the process allowed comparatively efficient and convenient collection and manipulation of images.

The collection of photographs and other images, included close up photographs of autumn flowers and plants from the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, digital images of water in a fountain and images of the moon, stars and celestial bodies. These were to be projected onto rear projection screens but in a unique and unconventional, but ultimately, most appropriate manner.

In the late sixties I had a conversation with Ostoja in his Stirling studio about a series of thirteen "sound sculptures" that I had designed. Sadly I was to produce only one of them but several had intended to use images projected through contained smoke. I was reminded of this connection with Ostoja and the conversation about projections that I had had with him and was able to design a projection screen that allowed two dimensional images to appear three dimensional and giving a feeling of constant movement. This aspect of the design proved to be both useful for the situation and of visual interest to the audience. It is also a development that will be of great use in future productions.

Innovation - Painting in Light

The projection screen consisted of an open fronted and open backed box, 3.5 metres high by 5.5metres wide and suspended behind and above the level of the back platform. The box was 40mm deep. The back of the box was covered with a sheet of plastic, which would hold the rear-projected image sufficiently enough for subtle definition of the details of the image, while allowing some of the image to penetrate. The front of the box was covered with a high-density clear plastic sheet. From a distance this side either looked like a window with images behind, or, with judicial use of light, able to disappear entirely as far as the audience was concerned. Built into the box were dichroic lights and in the bottom, two smoke machines fed smoke into the space between the front and rear plastic sheets. Thus smoke could be fed into the box and contained there. The addition of a vacuum pump allowed for the extraction of the smoke as was necessary for particular effects. As the projections from the rear were altered the images became three dimensional as they were caught by the smoke and as different colours and intensities of light were projected onto the rear screen. The size of the screen and the angle of projection, (from below the level of the bottom of the screen) meant that the images were when smoke was present, in fact, different for each audience member. It was intended to project onto the screen from both the front and rear. This, however, proved to be impracticable in the particular situation, as the projector's light was always visible to the audience as a bright and incongruous distraction, the computer projector suspended from the most downstage lighting bar and inaccessible to crew members during the performances. It is unfortunate that most computer projector lamps cannot be turned off by remote control when not actually projecting an image and the projected lamp image is always present. This was annoying to anyone sitting in the auditorium and it made the front screen always visible by its reflected image. In another place, in another performance, this problem could be overcome and the screen could allow many more possibilities for experimentation than were possible in this situation. The screen provided an unusual and unique dynamic effect that was in keeping with the values of the production and an extension of Ostoja's set design principles.

The final aspect of the set that allowed an unusual use of light was the suspended legs at the downstage and mid-stage edges of the stage. These consisted of a total of four sets of five pillars from floor to borders made of tubes of translucent plastic 300mm in diameter. 20 This design aspect was based on the clean white marble pillars of the ancient world and often depicted in images based on the era of the Greek legends. As the pillars were translucent, they were designed to be lit from behind at the top and the bottom and were thus designed to be able to change in colour and texture depending on the lighting and the placement of the action on stage.

Being cylinders and translucent it was possible to see the members of cast as they entered from the wings, their images distorted and made vague by the cylindrical shapes, providing an opportunity for choreographed experimentation. This aspect was put to particular effect in the scenes in the underworld where the spirits of the dead dwelt. Bremner placed a series of performers, dressed in black with their faces and hands visible, behind the pillars. As they moved slowly and in a stylised manner, their distorted shapes shifted and changed, providing an eerie and seemingly infinite amount of space offstage, where the souls of the dead roamed for eternity. Here was a disappointment in the design process and an indication of the inability of theatre technical training to provide an essential and collaborative part of the design process. The cylinders, in order to be able to change colours and to catch the light as had been envisaged in their design, required a series of lamps from the floor, upstage of the cylinders, and a matching series from above aimed downwards. There were limited lights from above but none from the floor despite constant requests and then insistence on the part of the designer.

This omission meant that the possibilities for colour variation were limited and largely unimaginative. Scenes such as in the underworld were mistakenly coloured simplistically with red on the cylinders, on stage and within the sides of the screen. The lighting designer before the production had done no research of the operatic medium, the story, the place or the intention of the director or the designer. The lecturer of the CPA had omitted to pass on to him the design intentions and the requirement for these essential lighting effects.

The lighting designer's image of the underworld was as the conventional Christian image of Hell, filled with fire and brimstone where souls are tormented and in danger of burning for all eternity. This image of Hell is derived, in fact, from the cremation piles outside the gates of Jerusalem where bodies were burned to protect the inhabitants of the city from disease. Burning in Hell was, therefore, originally a matter of communal hygiene and neither intended as a measure of guilt nor sentence to eternal damnation.

Thus the descent into the underworld, instead of a journey through a place of many colours - because Plutone was the God of precious stones, and the Underworld a place reflecting this - was accompanied by desert-parched, lolly red light, over-filling the space and bleaching all possibilities of the original image of both director and designer. This was changed by the lighting designer's supervisor after the final dress rehearsal and was thankfully better on opening night.

On the other hand, Ostoja used diffracted light to produce images of the underworld in his Sound and Image performance of Orpheus, providing projections of many colours, changing live with the movement of the machinery he used to move the angles of projecting mirrors.

 

Plutone's costume became a set piece with cast members, Underworld Spirits, making it undulate constantly from beneath.Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

The design of Plutone's costume became a major feature of the set, replacing the original idea of flying a black light reflective backdrop behind and around his "throne", which would have been able to retain the darkness of the underworld scene while allowing for a multicoloured light reflection. Bremner decided that the costume should instead be massive in its extent and able to cover members of the cast who were to move slowly and occasionally to appear as spirits from beneath the "skirt". His "throne" was to be the centre point of the ramp elevating him above the floor and allowing him to dominate the stage. As the God of Gemstones, Plutone's costume was the blue of sapphires or lapis lazuli and to become like a sea of movement. Proserpina was also dressed in the same blue and both characters had blue makeup to compliment this image. It was determined to project an image of a dark night with a crescent moon as Orpheus ascended, followed by Euridice, to the world above. This transition scene became very emotive of the love between Plutone and Proserpine and the new moon a symbol of hope for the young lovers.

 

 

 

 

The Opera

Orfeo begins with a brilliant Toccata played on brass instruments and then answered by the other instruments and repeated in the brass. This is one of the most recognised "fanfares" in Western music. This music usually is played in the orchestra pit as an overture. Early in the production process of Orfeo it was decided that the brass players were to appear on stage, in costume, and with a demonstration of controlled movement of the instruments and their exit from stage. The performers were positioned on the levels around the stage, dressed in red and black costumes. They began as the lights faded up from black. During this music there appeared a group of the Pastore from mid-stage right. It became obvious that one of the performers was indeed blind. He was led onto stage and presented with a very large book.21 He was led to the stage apron (downstage right) where the book was placed on a table and he sat, opened the book and began reading as if the story was in Braille. As he read a synopsis appeared on a projection screen behind him, explaining the action taking place, to assist with the understanding for the audience, as the language in which the opera was performed was the original Italian. The decision to present the story in this way, rather than the usual sur-titles above the proscenium arch, was less distracting for the audience as they only needed to refer to the words occasionally rather than the constant distraction of constantly changing titles.

 

   

The Pastore with the Story Teller seated. The Book was given to the story teller who read the story of the opera from it. The book and table were present through out the opera on the stage right apron. . Monteverdi's Orfeo.
Bremner Production. Union Hall
, Adelaide University 2002

 

Projected images and use of silhouettes in the Bremner Production of Orfeo, Union Hall, 2002.

 

The death of Euridice, silhouette.

 

Prologue, mimed instruments.

 
Prologue, mimed instruments. Detail.  
   

 

It is interesting to consider that this Pastore became the traditional storyteller, perhaps this was Publius Ovidius himself, or one of the other chroniclers of the legends, telling the story to an attentive audience. The story he was relating appeared on stage as the opera and perhaps the progress of the drama, and the projected images were the pictures in his imagination. He sometimes sat at his table, and at other times his imagination included him in the stage action. The storyteller is an important figure in the preservation of mythology; he is perhaps the observer, the historian, the custodian of cultures and the interface between history, mythology and the immediate listener and his descendants. Perhaps this character is similar to the figure in the Bell Shakespeare Company's production of Julius Caesar, who appeared in all scenes, dressed in hand knitted jumper and hat. She was the observer who survived the period and told others who were not there at the time. She was the one who warned Caesar to beware the Ides of Mars but to no avail. Perhaps the storyteller in Orfeo is the equivalent of the character Public Opinion in Offenbach's version of the Orphean legend, Orpheus in the Underworld, in which he pokes fun at mythology in characteristic style.

The use of the blind cast member in this manner provided the opportunity for the development of this character within the opera, which proved to be of great use in providing an explanation of the work to the audience, including a valued operatic voice in the production in a character that suited the performer, while allowing a plausible explanation for the inclusion of a sightless performer in a place where it would be possible for that performer to get into the obvious difficulties of a dangerous workplace.

In the Prologue, while the two characters, La Musica , dressed in extraordinary matching costumes that included musical manuscript paper and quills as head dresses, extolled the virtues of Orfeo, the director used the fact that the rear projection screen could provide a back light with the chorus, miming the use of musical instruments and posing in stylised friezes as they were silhouetted on the raised platform. The use within the production of silhouettes became a feature in several moments of climax, portraying the action that was the reason for the emotion portrayed.

Full chorus with rear projection of enlarged flowers. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002  

 

 

 

 

 

Orpheo playing the Lyre. This Property was made of Huon Pine from Tasmania and Perspex. The tree from which it was made fell in the forest more than four centuries ago and it was of a size that indicated it may well have been in existance when the legends of Orpheus were new. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 

Huon Pine and Perspex Lyre constructed by Ian Macdonald

 
Orpheo playing the Lyre. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002  

 

 

 

 

 

ACT 1

As the celebration of the marriage of Orfeo and Euridice is carried out by the shepherds and nymphs the images projected on the rear screen were taken from reality. They were autumn flowers of colours complimenting the costume designs. These were close up images showing minute detail of texture and depth of the flowers. It was realised that the use of the rear projection screen for any purpose other than as a conventional screen would, at this stage in the opera, soften the dramatic impact of the effects available and needed for more dramatic later scenes in the opera.

ACT II

While Orfeo returns to the celebrations he is greeted by the Nymphs and Shepherds celebrating in the fields where

 

Here Pan, God of the Shepherds,
Was heard at times
Remembering sweetly
His unhappy loves.
Here the gracious nymphs
(Always adorned with flowers)
Were seen to gather roses
With their white hands


Orfeo is asked to play his lyre to match the scented breezes. Everything is happy until a Messagiera arrives and disrupts the festivities. The character explains that

 

Must I now with my words
Pierce Orpheus through the heart.

Euridice, was collecting flowers for a garland for her hair

 

When a sly serpent
hidden in the grass
plunged poison fangs into
her foot

 

 

 

Silhouetted tableaux

 
The Messiengeri arrives with the news that Euridice has died. Silhouetted friezes provide "Grecian urn" images of the death. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002  

Here, while the unhappy messenger was telling the young lover of Euridice's fate, the projection screen, which had a platform behind, level with the bottom of the screen, was illuminated with an oval of light darkened at the edges. On the platform and between the screen and the projector, Bremner designed a series of tableaux depicting the scene as the messenger described it. This produced a simple but remarkable series of crisp shadowed silhouettes tableaux with the several scenes reminiscent of those depicted on the Grecian urns of the ancient world.

It was of interest to discover that Ostoja had used a similar technique in a Sound and Image production for the 1964 and 1966 Adelaide Festivals and for the same production to tour New Zealand, Perth and Hobart in 1966. Davidson describes a segment based on the music of Henk Badings entitled Woman of Andros, in which:

Space image projected during the interval of Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 
   
   
   
   

abstract colour images were blended into each other by means of rotating polarising screens in front of the lenses. Movements of dancers between the projectors and the screen appeared as silhouettes amongst the coloured images.23

There had been no connection made between the use of the technique in Ostoja's production and the production of Orfeo and it is of interest to note that the fact that similar situations, at different times can allow similar techniques to suggest themselves. This technique is simple and often such simplicity provides a satisfying result.

In the interval the images on the screen were taken from the Hubble space craft and showed an extraordinary distant constellation, reminiscent of the images produced by Ostoja as abstract manipulations of colour in the photographic processes he had available.

 

Moon Projection. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

This image faded to a spectacularly clear image of the moon twelve minutes into the twenty-minute interval. This image remained for several minutes and then smoke was gently added into the screen cavity. The smoke swirled around the image of the moon and it gradually changed to a three-dimensional image with less distinct outline producing a gentler impression. This device produced a transition, moving from the prettiness of the autumnal flowers of the first two acts, to the darker images of the underworld in the third act.

 

Speranza (Hope) in the guise of a butterfly leads Orfeo to the gates of the Underworld. Screen projection of waves on water.
Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002

 
Caronte (Caron) challenging the mortal Orfeo Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002  
Orpheo in Caronte's boat, Cast 1. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002.  
Orfeo takes Caronte's boat and is propelled across the water by the power of the Lyre. Cast 2.
M onteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002
 
Orfeo entering the Underworld across the River Styx. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002.  
Orfeo is given permission to lead Euridice back to life in the world above by the intercession of Proserpine. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 200  
The projected image of the new moon symbolised the new start for the two lovers as they journeyed from the Underworld Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002.  
Orpheo and the Sprites in the Underworld. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002.  
Proserpina, wife of Plutone pleading for Orfeo and Euridice to be reuinited. Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002.  
The original lighting for the Underworld, the conventional image of Hell, fire and brimstone! Monteverdi's Orfeo. Bremner Production. Union Hall. Adelaide University 2002.  
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

ACT III

Orfeo is determined to recover his Euridice from the clutches of Plutone, God of the Underworld. In order to do this he must persuade Caronte, the boatman, to ferry him across the marsh and the River Styx in order that he can enter Plutone's gate which has the inscription:

Abandon hope all ye who enter here!

He is still lamenting the loss of his lover when he is interrupted by Caronte asking who dares to approach before he is dead. In this scene the lighting designer, as described above, was mistaken in the intention of the direction. The red lighting was eventually mitigated by the addition of other colours at the direction of a lecturer from the CPA who had not seen this fault until the final dress rehearsal. The lighting that was seen on opening night was better than it had been but still not reflecting the images being projected on the screen. Here there were moving images of rippling water formed from a single image of the surface of a small pond in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. Joel Beclu, a theatre technician and a theatre artist of great expertise and ingenuity, took the single image and manipulated it into a slowly changing ocean-wave like body of water. Water With smoke in the screen this image was constantly moving and, as more smoke filled the space, slowly the water became more mysterious and marsh like.

With the lighting on stage free smoke was introduced from the prompt-side wing, gently filling the stage and continuing throughout the rest of the act. Narrow side lighting beams picked up the smoke and the faces of the spirits as Orfeo left in the boat crossing the marsh and the river having lulled Caronte to sleep by playing his Lyre.

Upon arrival in the Underworld Orfeo pleads with Plutone, God of the Underworld, to allow Euridice to return to the world above. He refuses until Proserpine intercedes for him. He can take her back to the world only if he does not look back at her on the journey. He must have faith that she is following.

All goes well until Orfeo hears a noise made by the Spirits of the Underworld and he, fearing that his love is in danger, turns to her only to see her carried back forever to the Underworld.

When Orfeo returns to the world without Euridice he laments that

if he had the eyes of Argus that could shed a whole ocean of tears, They would not suffice for so much sorrow.

His father, the God Apollo descends from the heavens and the sorrowful son asks what he wants and the father chastises him for lamenting too much. He asks

Have you not learned the lesson yet; That nothing here affording pleasure ever lasts for long?

The Apollo of the production in question was seen as a modern character, dressed in white sporting costume with gold decorations. It was intended for him to appear from the downstage left corner of the stage, abseiling from "the heavens" with the aid of mountaineering ropes provided and flown by members of the Adelaide University Abseiling Club, very experienced climbers and abseilers. This process was, after set up and rehearsal, short-circuited by the inability of the technical staff to agree to be capable of manipulating the descent. The safety measures involved in the process were proved to be more than adequate and all the abseiling safety equipment was in place. Sadly, Apollo had to make his entrance by simply appearing through a flown curtain of shredded gold mirror plastic, the full width of the stage, a passage that was lacking in the humour and surprise that the audience would have enjoyed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

frail demigod
builds temple's crystal image
on timeless cloud:
arabesque light intervined leaves through
wraith's sound of worship.
hive is your home,
yoke is your life
Frail demigod

Ostoja-Kotkowski

 

 


Euridice No. 1 and Euridice No. 2


Orpheus in the Landscape


Euridice in Classical pose

   

 

Ostoja's Influence in the Design Process of the Production Orfeo

Ostoja's interest in performance work based on the Orphean mythology was first evident in film scrips that he began to work on when he was studying at the Victorian Gallery Art School in the early 1950's, soon after, in fact, he had arrived in Australia as a migrant.

It is evident in much of this artist's work that he was fascinated by the legends. Just as there are many variations of the detail of the storyline of the myth, Ostoja created, in his writing, his own variations incorporating the character of Hermes who in Greek mythology was alternatively a thief and luck bringer. He was connected to Apollo, father of Apollo from whom Hermes was alternatively accused of stealing Apollo's cattle and that Apollo gave Hermes his cattle in return for which he was given the cithara, the five stringed triangular lyre-like instrument.

Ostoja also introduced a second Euridice much to Davidson's bafflement.

There it is again, Euridice No. 1 and Euridice No. 2 . Suddenly I see that is very similar to Persephone: half drawn to the underworld, and half drawn to the world. The former is dark and dweller of desolate places, the later is white and creator of nature. 24

There is also perhaps a comparison to be drawn between the two Euridices and Ostoja's own personal situation. This young man, having seen the death of the life he and his heritage had known for generations found himself in a new country, untouched by the ravages of war, a place where there was light and hope and a future. The character Hermes, the thief, was perhaps the means whereby the life before had been stolen.

 


Orpheus' Lyre; power to cross the Styx


Crystal images in Pluto's, God of Gemstones, Underworld

Euridice in urban landscape

 

Davidson, referring to Euridice No 2 continues:

As the latter [the creator of nature] she is the absolute, the origin of all creation. And representing the artist who moulds the absolute into the creation of a world. The forms of nature radiate from her. She has affinities with Leda, Europa and Persephone, in that all go into the darkness during a period of gestation before creating the springtime of the world. Orpheus could only have his inspiration with him without always looking for her. 25

 

The colours of the Underworld


Euridice in the Underworld

Made mythical flying creature in mined landscape (Moonta South Australia)

 

With the mythological characters that lived for a period in the darkness of the underworld all were connected with the regeneration of the world. Perhaps the second death of Euridice was too final for the young artist and he needed to keep alive the hope that his former existence in his homeland, Poland, could still be resurected. Hope lay within the inspiration of the white Euridice. Ostoja, especially exampled within his aristocratic demeanor, was perhaps the Orpheus of the script, left to continue life without a concrete past after the loss of all that had led him to his new life in his adopted land

 

 

Orpheus in the Underworld


Orpheus hears the sobbing shades
Of women in the dismal glades,
And seeks with her mellifluous dirge
His wife. But only harlots purge
Their shame with self-reproach's scourge.
Among the deadly myrtle trees
He questions many that he sees
Have plunged their hot Klavscidiousness
In cold Cocytus for redress:
In love with suffering and duress.

Like Phaedra, when the morbid maid
To spite her slighted love betrayed
Whom most she loved.
Wielding an axe,
Exultant Clytemnaestra hacks
Her husbandŐs ghost; but anguish racks.

Electra, as she hugs the vile
Paternal corpse, a necrophile.
Pasiphae, the royal whore,
Once coupled with a bull and bore the man- devouring Minotaur;

Now she repents her bestial vice
Alternately in fire and ice;
With Epicaste, she who led
Her son to an incestuous bed;
Myrrh, whom her own father wed;
And Byblis, Powerless to smother
Unlawful ardour for her brother.
Attis, beloved by Cybele,
Laments within his human tree
His severed masculinity.

And Scylla of the sluttish loins
In Yelping deprivation joins
The discord. Cry and cry contends,
Till music's tenderness suspends
Their punishments, and foes are friends.


Even the Furies overhead
Have ceased to castigate the dead:
Their chorus of cacophony
Silenced to hear his tragic plea;
"Where is my lost Euridice?"

From Orpheus and other poems
by Harold Stewart.

Electronic Images, background to Orpheus' Lyre

Euridice in the Underworld

Orpheus' Lyre in Underworld light

Image of a flower

Orpheus' Lyre in watery landscape

Euridice in silhouette

Orpheus' Lyrewith electronic image background

Euridice in Silhouette

Caronte's boat on the River Styx

Image in the Underworld

Davidson suggests that the Sound and Image production of Orpheus in Union Theatre was under-rehearsed and that the dress rehearsal was a shambles. He states that the performances went smoothly enough although he was backstage working the projectors. He describes Kotkowski as a Thespian Frankenstein as he directed and manipulated the production. It was necessary, for instance, to construct a booth at the back of the auditorium from which Ostoja was able to direct the performance by the use of an intercom system

The importance of this work was simply that there was nothing else as innovative happening around Australia at the time. This production had original poetry and narration, stunning visuals together with original musique concrete and pre-recorded soundtracks of conventional music.

It may seem an extravagant claim that Adelaide could be the venue for such unique innovation but, put in the context of the excitement of the new Adelaide Festival of Arts, which was eventually to be considered of international standing, attracting innovative theatre and other arts from around the world. It was indeed the fertile ground for such experimentation. There was also this extraordinary group of immigrant European artists, mainly from Poland and Latvia, whose striving for excellence and hard work laid the foundation for acceptance of the unusual.

 

 

Professor John Bishop, of the Elder Conservatorium of Music, founder of the Australian Youth Orchestra, National Music Camp and the driving force behind the formation of the Adelaide Festival, was very receptive to the innovative, to avante garde music, and to the encouragement of local productions. it was he, in fact, who encouraged Ostoja to design many opera productions for the Elder Conservatorium of Music. This was before the "internationalisation" of the Adelaide Festival of Arts when the beaurocracy increased the imported content with the subsequent relative fall in the attention to the local arts. It was also the time when there were no other significant arts festivals around Australia. It was perhaps the expense of the importation of international performers that eventually encouraged the development of other festivals in other capitals at similar times. In the initial Adelaide Festivals bringing performers exclusively to Adelaide meant that culture starved audiences would travel to see them in Adelaide. The necessity to share the costs between cities diluted the attraction and distracted the creative attention to other centres.

After Orpheus Kotkowski's theatre work consisted of the designs for the opera productions for the Elder Conservatorium of Music and other productions at Union Hall. This theatre was a state of the art building for the period, with the very latest in lighting equipment, fly tower, orchestra pit, easy access for large set pieces and a backstage which allowed for innovation, including the rear projection of images used to great effect by Kotkowski. The staff, including Reg Bennett, lighting, and John Blain, technical manager, were experienced and expert in their fields. Patrick White, in 1961, describes the theatre as the most up to date in Australia. 27

Although modest by modern standards the building is still in great demand for productions although the traditions of theatre, nurtured by the University in the times before the advent of television, have been seriously compromised by the present usage as a lecture theatre. 28

In 1960 Derek Jolly returned after an extended trip around Europe. He brought with him all the latest gadgets including stereo tape recorders, the latest speakers and dimmers for projectors and the very best of German (Zeiss)photographic equipment.

Ostoja and Jolly called a meeting of artists of different disciplines in the Jolly's home in the Adelaide suburb of Medindie to discuss a multi-media production of Orpheus. Those artists who agreed to join the project included poets Rob Morrison, Harold Stewart, Edwin Muir and David Malouf who were to provide poetry for the production. Dancers were to be recruited from the South Australian Ballet Theatre with Max Collis as Orpheus, Lorraine Irving as Euridice and Cecil Bates as Pluto.

The set included rear projection on two screens using Jolly's variable transformers as slides were changed and dissolved into each other on the screen.

The production was so complicated that Stan constructed a control booth at the back of the auditorium from which he could control lighting and talk to the backstage through an intercom system.

This was the first of Ostoja's Sound and Image productions and it took place in the Union Theatre in the Adelaide University in July 1960.

The production received widely varying comment from reviewers and including one to which Kotkowski took exception in On Dit, the Adelaide University Student Newspaper.

Ostoja responded to the critics with a strongly worded retort in ON Dit on September 16th 1960 in which he writes as following is extracted.

 

It is seldom that a production draws forth such a range of adjectives as "tedious", "tiresome", and "interminable", "Pretentious", "vulgar", "immature", "confused", on the one hand and "stimulating and different", adventurous", "impressive", "smooth", and "fascinating" on the other. "Sexy" was one comment and "sexless" another. Now that the public has had a chance to chew it over and argue the pros and cons, I should like to straighten out some of the idiotic comments made by a number of the critics. To begin with, some of the critics tried to hammer home that they knew all about the techniques of presentation and that these had been used and discarded in the twenties (E.V.G. of the "Advertiser", and Rosemary Burden, and a critic without the courage to sign his name in Mary's Own Paper). Unfortunately a critic does not need cheap slickness in expressing an opinion so much as knowledge, breadth of understanding and sound judgement. There were faults in this production, but they were entirely missed by the would-be critics. If "Orpheus" recalls the sentimental 1920's to the "minds" of the critics, their criticism recalls feeble attempts by critics in the 19th and 20th centuries who made fools of themselves by criticising works which called for intelligent participation on the part of the public.

I wonder whether it was the musique concrete, abstract expressionism, or poems written in the 1950's, all used in this production which recalled the sentimental 1920's! The critics showed their lack of knowledge of rear projection, which goes back well beyond the 1920's and which, far from being discarded, is being developed this day in Europe. It was, for example, used successfully in an advanced form at the last Brussels World Fair (though E.V.G. knows nothing of this). They showed their lack of knowledge of music; how on earth did John Heuzenroeder ("On Dit") find Frank Martin in our production? A statement in "Mary's Own Paper" claiming that "a whole generations of Germans saw their first surrealistic painting in 1955! Is utterly absurd, and reveals a lack of knowledge of the history of art. I saw exhibitions of such paintings in Dusseldorf in 1946; those who were really interested in such developments kept up with them in spite of oppressive regimes.

I was warned before the production started that the story's thread of symbolism might be difficult for some of the public to follow. This led me to compromise by including a precis of the story in the programme for those who did not know and for those who were mentally lazy. I found later that the public had no great difficulty in appreciation but the critics faied miserably, for example John Heuzenroeder was unable, despite the explanation in the text, to understand that a man seeking solitude and preparing for death would turn to an atmosphere in which he could find serenity and come to terms with himself, as he ought to do when entering a cathedral or temple.

The same critic failed to understand the criss-cross of Orpheus's thoughts and feelings symbolised by the patterns of lights. As for the production being "arty", judging by his article, I doubt very much whether this critic would know the difference between art and artiness. 29

It is a brave artist (sometimes suicidal) that answers his critics in the manner Ostoja chose in this instance.

 

 

 

As a postscript to the above writing about the production of Orfeo presented by the Elder Conservatorium of Music in 2002 it is necessary for me to note that there has been a major improvement as far as the training of the technical artists within the Adelaide Institute for the Arts and their participation in the opera production for 2003. Very recently the cooperation between the two institutions has improved to the extent that the production of Marriage of Figaro September 2003, once again directed by Tessa Bremner, has been exemplary with excellent student involvement in lighting, set design, stage management and especially costume design.

It is also interesting to note that, Mr Leonard Porter, the administrator of the Elder Conservatorium of Music in the time when Ostoja designed many of the opera productions attended the opening night of Marriage of Figaro and stated his appreciation of the work that Ostoja had undertaken over many years. He added that he wondered if the cost of recent productions was higher than then. He mentioned that the cost of the sets for Gluck's Orpheus was $300 while the budget for Orfeo in 2003 was $3,000.

 

 

____________________________________
Footnotes

 

Electronic sites
http://perseus.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/cgi-bin/perscoll?collection=Greco-Roman
http://www.loggia.com/myth/
http://www.classicsunveiled.com/mythnet/html
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/3449/orpheus.html

  1. Morrison, R.H., Orpheus Hellas Vol 2, No 1, Spring, 1991 Glenside, Pennsylvania
  2.Kobbe's Complete Opera Book. The Earl of Hartford Putnam and Company, London 1976.

 

 

 

 

 

3. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, New York, 1973. p1946
4. Greenberg, Hope The Ovid Project: Metamorphozing the Metamorphoses University of Vermont http://www.uvm.edu/~hag/ovid/aboutovid.htmlUniversity of Vermont.

5. In the Mortlock Library collection of South Australiana, Ostoja's personal documentation occupies fifty metres of shelf space of documents, photographs, publicity materials etc. There is also a collection in the Ballieu Library in Melbourne University and in his homeland Poland.

6. Farwell, George. He Gives Theatre a New Look, article. The Advertiser, Sat July 9 1960, p20.
7.Farwell, George. He Gives Theatre a New Look, article. The Advertiser, Sat July 9 1960, p20.
8. It is perhaps significant that there are several poems by Malouf and Harold Stewart that have remained in the extensive records that Ostoja kept and that are now lodged in the Mortlock Collection of the State Library of South Australia. When contacted David Malouf suggested that he had been very young at the time and had improved considerabley since.These are poems written when the young poets were not established within the Australian ethos.

9. Farwell, George. He Gives Theatre a New Look, article. The Advertiser, Sat July 9 1960, p20
10. Davidson, Ian. Art, Theatre and Photography (self published) Adelaide,1999 p34.

11. In a taped interview with Derek Jolly he described these amplifiers as being made by Radford in England and these were considered equal to the best in the world. The mixing desk used for the production was made by Graham Milne specifically for this Sound and Image production.

12. Graham Milne worked for Derek Jolly for many years in the Adelaidian institution, Melbourne Street, a commercial initiative of Jolly. Milne is still, although officially retired, a valued recording engineer for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Adelaide. He had a reputation in the 60's and 70's of being the best engineer cutting master disks for companies such as EMI who sent their tapes to the Decca's Place recording studio for mastering on the Studer master cutter. Much of the credit for the high standard of audio production for the Sound and Image productions for both Ostoja and Jolly, working sometimes in collaboration and sometimes independently, must go to the exacting standards of Graham Milne.

13. Davidson, Ian. Art, Theatre and Photography (self published) Adelaide, 1999. p44

14. Davidson p44 Hirschfeld-Mack had a distinguished carreer marked out for him by the reputation he earned as a multi-skilled artist within the Bauhaus. He was forced to flee Germany for England as a result of Nazi activities. He arrived in Australia and was interred for two years at Hay in New South Wales. He was unconditionally released and became the master of Art at Geelong Grammar School in Victoria. He is represented in most public art collections in Australia but his isolation from his previous world meant that he spent the last years of his life in relative obscurity. In 1922 he began work on his Lichtspiele or reflected light compositions. These arose from his need to express the rhythmic and dynamic qualities of colour through movement and music. He designed a complex apparatus to project coloured forms, frequently overlapped in progressive tonal gradations, on to a screen. The effect was of an abstract film, although each show was a unique performance. Hirschfeld-Mack and his team performed his Lichtspiele in several European cities during 1923-5, and he himself provided the musical accompaniment. In 1964 three of his compositions were reconstructed on film at the Bauhaus-Archiv in West Berlin. Grove Art (http://www.groveart.com/shared/views/article.html?section=art.038260) It is also of significance that several of the sound works of Hirschfeld-Mack have been the subject of Sound installations at the Geelong Art Gallery in recent years.

15. Stephen Wilson, Jim Bettison and Reginald Bennett

16. Davidson, Ian. Art, Theatre and Photography (self published) Adelaide, 1999 p45

17. http://www.oup-usa.org/sc/0195143388/chaptertopics/links_1.html

18. http://www-lib.haifa.ac.il/www/art/mythology

19. It was a remarkable coincidence that, having worked in the production, albeit of GluckŐs Orpheus, that Ostoja had designed for the Elder Conservatorium of Music, in Adelaide University's Union Hall theatre, that I was now involved in an operatic production based on the same legends, for the same school, in the same theatre and using some of the principles that this master artist defined. The time in which I was approached to design the set for the production coincided with a period of research in the Mortlock Library in Adelaide in which the estate of Ostoja is lodged. I had been viewing his collection of Orpheus photographs for the 1960 Sound and Image production and the opera in 1968. As a source of inspiration and information his collection was very useful.

20. This material is simply the uncut plastic bag tubes used, as industrial packaging, and common in the packaging industry, available in lengths up to several kilometres. This product in many forms has been used by the author for many purposes from set design, including a phallic representation of the Captain Cook fountain in Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, to the decoration of Elder Park in Adelaide as part of the Come-Out Festival and the International year of the Child Festivals in New South Wales. Here industrial blowers were used to inflate the plastic tubes of many colours and diameters with children able to play both inside and outside depending on the diameters. Others of these were inflated with helium and made into monstrous floating sculptures within the children's festivals.
.
21. This book 900mm x 600mm + 40mm was brown in colour. It was in fact borrowed from the State Archives and had engraved on the front Births Book 1. Inside there were no entries in this birth registry but it was dated 1800's. It is possible that this book was the first to be made as part of the then new colony of South Australia. There were no births as the colony in fact started to the latter part of the 1930's in Adelaide.

22. Monteverdi, Orfeo ACT V, duet with Eco

23. Davidson, Ian. Art, Theatre and Photography (self published) Adelaide, 1999p46

24.Davidson, Ian. Art, Theatre and Photography (self published) Adelaide, 1999 p36

25.Davidson, Ian. Art, Theatre and Photography (self published) Adelaide, 1999 p36

26. Davidson, Ian. Art, Theatre and Photography (self published) Adelaide, 1999 p36

27. Marr, David ed Patrick White Letters. Random House Australia Sydney 1994 p 198

28. It is disappointing to work in this space now with the ghosts of performances past, as it is used as a lecture theatre for less artistic university subjects than music and theatre. Although this was supposed to be a temporary usage of the space one notes that there are the signs of permanence in the technical equipment provided to the lecturers. With the stage and backstage space largely unavailable for production usage during the days production times of a show such as Orfeo are extended. This situation is, however, better than the apparent proposal by several schools within the Adelaide University, to pull the building down and to construct a "more useful" space on the site. It was the lobbying of the theatre manager, Jim Denny, over a long period that secured the safety of the building for at least part time theatrical use. Having lectures about economic rationalism in such hallowed ground is like having a football match in a cathedral.

29. Attributed to Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski, On Dit September 16th 1960. Adelaide University.