Sunday, September 26, 2010

Egypt Through the Eyes of a Brit via Italy!

I recently took in a production of Aida by Giuseppe Verdi at the San Francisco Opera, which was designedby thebrilliant Zandra Rhodes.

Ms. Rhodes, who is a notably eccentric fashion designer by trade, has become known for her trademark bright pink hair and a generally non-traditional demeanor. Ms. Rhodes also designed a production of Les Pêcheurs de Perles by Bizet for the San FranciscoOpera in 2005.

Ms. Rhodes first established her own retail outlet in London in 1969, when her textile designs were considered too outrageous. She has since had an illustrious career designing for the likes of Princess Diana, Helen Mirren and Sarah Jessica Parker. Queen Elizabeth II named her a Commander of the British Empire in 1997.

The designer’s vision for the production of Aida is rooted in quintessentially Egyptian colors likeTurquoise,Citrine and Ultramarine. The fantastic colors are teamed with a dynamic graphic quality plucked right from Ms. Rhode’s own fashion moments (she designed an Egyptian inspired collection in conjunction with her first designs for Aida). The effect is dynamicand exciting. Rhode’s designs manage to lighten the production without dismissing the seriousness of the story or compromise Mr. Verdi’s monumental score.

The English National Opera and the Houston Grand Opera have shared in the production, which was originally commissioned by Opera Pacific, which subsequently folded.

Like most live performances, this production is at it’s most dazzling when seen live (photos truly do not do it justice), so I highly recommend it for a truly artistic experience.

Brava to Ms. Rhodes!

David Hansen

Photos Credits from top:

1) SF Sentinel: Photo, Tristam Kenton.

2) SF Sentinel

3) SF Sentinel: Photo, Tristam Kenton.

4) Opera program cover designed by Zandra Rhodes. photo, David Hansen.

5) Aida set courtesy of the Academy of Art fashion blog.

6) SF Opera web site: photo, Cory Weaver

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