Friday, October 30, 2015

Painting Don Giovanni

My latest project with Tacoma Opera--Don Giovanni, the tale of a rake punished.  Seductions, murder, a singing statue, and the fires of hell.  Exciting!

Over the summer, Tacoma Opera moved their offices to the Landmark Convention Center, which used to be the Temple Theater. The theater is still there, but now it's used as an event venue rather than a theater. They said we could use the stage area for painting whenever there wasn't an event happening, so I got to paint there rather than in a chilly warehouse in Lakewood. On the whole it worked out very well, though I did lose a week of painting time when they had a rash of events back-to-back.

Painting the fires of hell.

Part of the plan involved creating some cloth walls that would be hung over the orange walls, to reveal the fires of hell at the end.  I got three big canvas drop cloths to cover the stage with while I was working, and then Noel (the director) came by and said, "We could just paint these!"  So I did.  (I didn't get any pictures of that part.)  I spread two of the cloths out on the stage and wet them down to get the folds out, and let them dry over the weekend.  Then I spent a day roller-ing on a base coat and stippling them to match the other pieces. 

Load-in at the Rialto.  There's no backstage shop area, like at the Pantages, so they just stack stuff everywhere.

Going up!

When I was working on the orange panels I didn't have them next to each other, so I figured I would do more blending once we got them put up, and maybe add some red splatters, but Noel said it looked good the way it was.

There were a lot of changes to the set--things that I painted that didn't get used, and things that got added and I had to paint after they were put in place. It happens.

On Monday I took a spill--I was cleaning up and carrying two paint cans to the edge of the stage when I caught my foot on the edge of my drop cloth and went sprawling. I skinned my knee, and one can popped its lid, sending a delicate spray of bright red paint over my hair, my face, my was like a horrifying scene of bloody carnage. (I came home and took a shower.) I was limping around for a couple of days, but I was still able to do what I needed to. Whew!

Taking my work home with me--I painted these shutters Wednesday morning before going in. The kids had a half day, so I picked them up and took them to Mary McGiffin's house, and then was busy painting till almost 6:30. Long day!

The painted drop cloth walls went up, and there was enough fabric left over to cover the lower area also. Score!

The cloth walls were attached with velcro. Everyone said they looked really good. (Hardly like painted drop cloths at all!) I suspect we may be using this technique again in the future.

Dress rehearsal day is always a bit frantic. We had a lot to do, and we were busy right up until the last minute.

Noel kept telling me to add more orange. I wasn't completely sold on the idea, but it did look pretty cool with the dramatic lighting at the end! I did feel that the all-over stippling may not have been a good idea, though. When you have a uniform layer of stippling it all just ends up looking the same. (I think I did better with the Romeo and Juliette set. I shall redeem myself next time!)

Tony and I had a four-hour work call Friday morning to finish up a few things. (More orange stippling!)

I begged a couple of extra tickets (for Friday, since Doug has evening class on Wednesday), so I got to go to opening night with Anne Marie, Mary, and my friend Mimi (who I met through Two Peas years ago!) It was a blast. We got a blurry group selfie!

The ending was particularly stunning. Don Giovanni descends into hell, but the Rialto doesn't have a trap door, so Noel came up with a really clever solution.

(Photos by Peter Serko, from dress rehearsal.)

Don Giovanni is confronted by the statue of the Commendatore while the furies peel back the cloth walls. This part was so cool--I knew it was coming and I was still impressed. Anne Marie said it was like the walls were melting. (The furies are not in the opera, originally, but they worked well.)

The middle section is on wheels, and the whole thing moves forward very slowly as the statue sings. (Creepy!)

The furies lift up the lid. (This got painted before opening night.)

Don Giovanni is thrust into hell and the furies close the lid on him. (They had a light under the unit, from behind, so there was a glow coming up through the opening. It looked amazing.)

The other principals come out and sing, "So end all who do wickedly!" Or something like that. (That's Karen Evans in black--she was Mother Abbess in our multi-stake Sound of Music.)

We went out in the lobby to see Karen, and I heard a lot of people telling Noel how stunning the ending was. Those special effects were really something!

This is the fourth time I've painted for Tacoma Opera, but the first time I've done  the October show.  It's been a busy month.  (Halloween preparations at home have been very minimal.)  Now I have to wait till January to start painting the next show! Maybe I'll start working on that mural in our bathroom.

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