la boheme

Setting Puccini's timeless opera on the cusp of World War I, Craig Ilott and I reimagined this classic tale of truth, love, and art against the crumbling Belle Epoch and the collective loss of the innocence of Europe. In an new initiative by OperaQ, the production worked with community choruses across Queensland.  In all, we costumed around 400 people over the production. Working also with the Queensland College of Art animation department, we created a continually flowing set, the backdrop becoming a moving artwork framing the performance.  Craig and I had constant snow for Act III - much to the delight of audiences especially in Mt Isa!

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"The setting was subtly different to the original source as well. OperaQ recreated the doomed France of 1913 in the place of Bohemian 1840s Paris. The French Gendarmerie march across the stage in their infamous red pants (which famously c’est la france). In the next year those red pants made very poor camouflage. And the opera is full of grim allegory like that – with just that one slight change, and some absolutely phenomenal work from the costumes department, the show creates an entirely new level of tension. The story becomes a metaphor for the death of Edwardian Europe – told through one of its most notable cultural artefacts. I love the irony"

Andrew MessengerLimelight Magazine

© 2016 Penny Challen 

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