LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Attila by Prada and Herzog & de Meuron


A new performance of Verdi's Attila at The Metropolitan Opera in New York features costumes designed by Miuccia Prada and sets constructed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron.

The premiere of Verdi’s Attila at The Metropolitan Opera, New York, is a collaboration of creative talent. Conducted by Riccardo Muti and directed by Pierre Audi, it features costume designs by Miuccia Prada and sets by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron, all of whom make their Met debuts. A celebrated international cast completes the dream team of names involved in the production.

Verdi’s ninth opera tells the story of the invasion of Italy by Attila, King of the Huns, in the mid-fifth century. As such, the opera is at points set on the battlefield (depicted by an artfully placed pile of rubble by Herzog & de Meuron) and, at others, in a forest (which the architects convey with a dramatic wall of foliage). There is little suggestion of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron’s most famous buildings, such as the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the “Bird’s Nest”, or their most recent structure, the VitraHaus at Weil am Rhein in Germany.

True to form, the costumes of Miuccia Prada (who spent five years studying performing mime at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan before taking over her family’s luggage business) are said to accurately represent the fashions of the time. Crafted from leather, metal and jewels, they are made in a palette of black and brown and seem inspired by some of Prada’s recent collections.

As spectacular as this collaboration of art, architecture and Attila is, not all the critics were won over by the performance, which opened on February 23, 2010. Although Anthony Tommasini, the music critic of The New York Times, found Herzog & de Meuron’s effort to be visually striking, but he “grew tired of looking at it, and the staging seemed stuck in its concept.” Tommasini went on to remark that, “Odabella’s beehive hairdo, meant to be ominous, made Ms. Urmana look rather like a surreal Marge Simpson.”

There is a long tradition of fashion designers collaborating with opera, ballet and theater, from Coco Chanel’s costumes for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes production of Le Train Bleu in 1924, to Viktor & Rolf’s creations for a performance of Der Freischütz in 2009. Aside from starchitect-designed opera houses, there is less of a precedent for architects to work on the stage, though there are several projects on the horizon: John Pawson has designed stage scenes for the Royal Opera House in London, to open in May 2010, and Santiago Calatrava has constructed sets for the New York City Ballet season, which begins on April 29, 2010.

In the meantime, for fans of culture in all its forms, Attila at the Met represents the culmination of opera, fashion and architecture at its most accomplished. Encore!

More info:

There are eight more performances of Attila at The Metroplitan Opera, New York.
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