'Khovanshchina'

Winner of the Birmingham Opera Company's Prize 2014 

Director: Richard Willacy

Speculative design

Initial storyboard moment

Initial storyboard moment

Initial storyboard moment

Initial storyboard moment

Initial storyboard moment

Initial storyboard moment

Choreographing audience movement

Choreographing audience movement

Choreographing audience movement

Choreographing audience movement

Choreographing audience movement

Choreographing audience movement

Initial sketch of central tower

Initial sketch of central tower

Macquette of tower structure

Macquette of tower structure

Experiments with lighting

Experiments with lighting

Storyboarding audience interaction

Storyboarding audience interaction

1:50 model

Storyboarding audience interaction

Storyboarding audience interaction

Storyboarding audience interaction

Storyboarding audience interaction

The final scene

The final scene

The True Believers ascend the burning tower

I chose to set Mussorgsky's Russian 17th century opera within the current crisis in Syria, to make a comment on the futility of human nature and our cyclical history. I focused on the tessaltion of Islamic architecture, and compared this to the hard-working bee's honeycomb hives. The minaret tower in the set represented the human need to keep building amongst destruction, ever upward in a glorious monument of failed humanity. The scale of this production was gargantuan, and a long process starting with visualising the opera through in-depth storyboarding was needed to create a believable world. The audience interaction with the set and the actors was another key factor of my design, with actors leading the audience in helping build the tower throughout the performance. This was my own prayer for Syria, and indeed for humanity. 

© 2019  Rhian Morris                                                                               Netherlands