Our Steampunk Opera is Love Letter to the Oceans

Posted: March 5, 2013 by Mary Lin in Uncategorized

We’re deep into the process of finishing the sea creatures – or so I thought. Every time I work with Liz Baumann, lighted prop and clothing creator extraordinaire, it’s as if we’re shedding our human clothing for a moment, diving deep into the oceans and witnessing what goes on there with the eyes of our invertebrate ancestors. It’s a little something like this:

From a purely aesthetic point of view, there’s no improving on nature. As artists, we’re striving to find a balance between the formalized world view of Victorian science, where Creation is a series of collectibles to be removed to the comfort of the lab or drawing room as curiosities or for further study, and the heart-expanding wonder of life on this planet — all while keeping in mind the materials of the theatre artist of the era, primarily fabric, wood, and paint. Victorian-Edwardian era German botanist and Renaissance man Ernst Haeckel offers some direction:

Haeckel's Opera Theater of Sea Creatures

Haeckel’s Opera Theater of Sea Creatures

As designers we’re always looking for the underlying pattern in things that will allow us to interpret them as a whole, to draw them in the same style, as it were. Haeckel’s drawings demonstrate the scientist’s quest for the underlying pattern as well, for repeated and unifying structures. The “line-iness” of his drawing style is a perfect starting place for an oceanscape painted by scenic artists in a cabaret or vaudeville traveling show. Can’t wait to show you some finished designs.

As David Gallo notes, we only even know about a few percent of the species living in the oceans. The question is, can we understand our essential relation to these blinking, color and pattern-changing, whimsically-painted monsters — and how would be behave if we did?

We hope Queen Victoria’s Floating Garden will help to open the eyes of wonder. To order you tickets for the Queen Victoria performances in Boulder and Denver this spring, visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/org/2576365192?s=12544702

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