Director Àlex Ollé of La Fura dels Baus and set designer Alfons Flores are on stage in Brussels with their new production Frankenstein.
Frankenstein is an opera commissioned by La Monnaie, composed by Mark Grey and based on Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus.
Àlex Ollé had the idea of a contemporary opera based on the myth of Frankenstein back in 2011. He considers the novel by Mary Shelley’s a pioneer of science-fiction, a genre the director loves particularly.
The story of Frankenstein and his creature are of contemporary relevance today in a time in which the possibilities offered by science to manipulate humans make the debate on the topic pressing.
With this opera, the director also intended to mark the two hundred years since the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus which dates back to 1818. For the occasion, Ollé and Grey asked librettist Júlia Canosa i Serra to turn the novel into a stage play and adapt Shelley’s English to contemporaneity.
The result is another immersive, total experience featuring beside Flores’ sets, a light concept by Urs Schönebaum, costumes by Lluc Castells, and videos by Franc Aleu.
The opera Frankenstein is set in an unspecified future. Several scientists discover a creature frozen into the ice fields of the North Pole. One of them, Dr Walton, takes the lead in bringing him back to life in a bold experiment. Encouraged by their success, the scientists go a step further. Gradually the ‘Creature’ returns to consciousness. Snatches from a murky past surface and, with the help of high-tech equipment, the scientists also succeed in visualising those mental images. Thus, the crucial scenes from what took place so many years ago (in Mary Shelley’s novel) manifest themselves in flashbacks. At the centre is the strained triangle between Victor, Elizabeth and the Creature, which is derailed the moment Victor chooses the security and intimacy of his romantic relationship, something that will always be denied his creation.
“We also live in a society capable of creating monsters, like that of Frankenstein, by simple lack of love or empathy,” says Ollé. “This, in essence, is the underlying idea of our interpretation of the novel.”
The set features a circular space with a concentric arrangement. The scene mutates continuously. In the middle, a hole dug in permafrost from where the body of Frankensteins’ monster will come out. All around the steps of what resembles an anatomical theatre. The space is surmounted by a circular covering structure in the middle of which scenic elements rise and descend.