The Italian Teatro Petruzzelli of Bari is staging a new production of Turandot directed by Paul Curran, featuring costumes designed by iconic Italian couturier Roberto Capucci. The set design was entrusted to scenographer Gary McCann.
In a conversation with Scenography Today, McCann offers an interesting glimpse into the creation of his sets. He explains the project’s foundation and how Roberto Capucci’s lively works directly impacted the staging’s scenography.
Scenography Today (ST): Gary McCann, how did this project stem?
Gary McCann (GM): The project originated when Teatro Petruzzelli had the idea of engaging the esteemed Italian fashion designer Roberto Capucci to design the costumes for a new production of Turandot. The director Paul Curran and I had the interesting challenge of building a scenographic context that is generated in direct response to the unique vision of this extraordinary couturier.
ST: What about Capucci’s work influenced your scenography design?
GM: Capucciʼs career spans seven decades and encompasses many collections. His garments exhibit some recurring features, such as the rigid and structural elements, which are particularly evident in his sculpture dresses from the 1960s. His work, therefore, effortlessly inhabits a unique intersection of clothing, art, and architecture. The second exceptional aspect of his work is the fearless and joyous use of tone: blocks of bold colors collide in provocative and unexpected ways. Rainbow-like fans of colored silks often splay across a single garment.
ST: How did you adapt Capucci’s visual world into the scenography?
GM: Once we had delved into Robertoʼs visual world, the idea for the scenography was easy to arrive at. The strong colors and shapes required a neutral space that allowed them to register fully with the audience. Matt, white sculptural scenic elements enable strong costume silhouettes to be created against them while having their own expressiveness and spatial rhythm.
ST: Can you elaborate on using origami in your design?
GM: The abstract origami structures echo the folds and geometry of Capucciʼs fabric architecture. They are graceful and aggressive at the same time. As they reconfigure, the symmetrical, angular forms evoke swans, a crown, the claws of a crab, and most significantly, floral forms in the shapes of a giant closed lotus and, later on, a 10-meter-high open orchid.
ST: How about the role of light and video in this staging?
GM: The lighting by Fabio Barettin and the video design by Driscoll Otto is the third and final layer of this design. The plastic nature of their work transforms the scenography with floods of color that contrast and complement the jewel-toned costumes. Kaleidoscopic and psychedelic projections of vortexes, abstract waterlilies, glittering crystal facets in emerald and gold, and erupting blue flames create spectacular visual climaxes to the soaring choruses of Pucciniʼs richly orchestrated score.
Turandot is produced by Fondazione Teatro Petruzzelli and premiering at the Italian opera house on September 13, 2023.