I went to the ballet yesterday. The costumes were by Jean-Paul Gaultier, so there was a definite bondage twist on the wicked queen’s costume. They updated the story but kept the grace and beauty of the ballet. I really enjoyed it, a ballet dancer’s strength is fascinating, how the make each other look weightless. There were some high wire dances and a good costume change where the queen puts on a robe and pulls of her crown to reveal wild hair as she goes to tempt Snow White with the apple. The two cats were also really well performed.
Saddayakko, was a enterprising figure in Japanese theatre. She travelled the Paris, Italy and America and brought the arts of Japanese theatre and Gei to an Orientally thirsty Paris. Japonisme was big in fin-de-siecle Paris, artists including Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Manet were seeking inspiration from Ukiyo-e woodcuts and kimono prints that were refreshing and modern to the European eye. Naturally they were captivated by Sadayakko’s traditional Japanese performances. It was at this time that Giaccamo Puccini travelled to Milan to see her perform and shape the character of Madame Butterfly accordingly. Symbolist poet Jean Lorrain described Sadayakko as “a kind of hallucination caused by opium from the Far East. She is as elegant and gentle as Utamaro’s ukiyoe.”
The main reason I included a post about Sadayakko is this photograph of her as Ophelia that immediately inspired me to alter my Ariel puppet. I decided to give it thick, wild hair and also to resculpt the eyes as heavy down-cast eyelids.
Below Sadayakko impresses the Parisians in 1900, with her on-stage costume changes!
On Tuesday Amber took me to see Madame Butterfly at the ENO. It was the Anthony Minghella adaptation. The sets were really brilliant they used bunraku puppets. There were plenty of references to Kabuki; the Kurogo stage-assistants operating lanterns birds and puppets. One of the stage sets included the hanging blossoms borrowed from Fuji Musume. It was visually really engaging and definitely helped my project. The opera was imbued with the cinematic, as you would expect form a film director’s vision.
Although some of the costumes didn’t appeal to my eye it was a very imaginative and visually enthralling experience. It is such a moving story, it made me look again at Pjotr Sapegin’s Aria that Shelley showed us when she set the brief. I really love his interpretation of the story. It’s so painful at the end when Pinkerton goes of with Barbie in the Jeep and leaves Cio-Cio to her tragic fate…
One other indispensable discovery was in the Madame Butterfly program. I saw a picture of Sadayakko, and so I’ll tell you all about her in the next blog post….
A couple more pics from Ninagawa’s Medea. Such a phenomenal piece of theatre! I love the melodrama and the tragedy. The costumes and stage effect are all breathtaking too. If you know the story, then you know the fate of her two children above…
A theatrical and stylised film by Seijun Suzuki. The sets resemble those in Kabuki, with consciously artificial looking sets and props. Some of the sets (shown in this boat scene) are superimposed traditional paintings, like Kawamoto’s animations!