Gottfried Helnwein arouses creative tumult. - Los Angeles Times
SET DESIGNER - Gottfried Helnwein COSTUME DESIGNER - Gottfried Helnwein CONDUCTOR - Kent Nagano DIRECTOR - Maximilian Schell
Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss
STRANGE BUT TRUE
Los Angeles Times Mark Swed 31. May 2005
Gottfried Helnwein's wondrous staging of "Der Rosenkavalier" is eccentric and anachronistic — yet utterly faithful to its spirit. The thing you should know about this "Rosenkavalier" is that it is terrific. Richard Strauss' opera sounds great and looks sensational. It is excellently sung, sumptuously conducted by Kent Nagano and, thanks to Gottfried Helnwein, wondrously strange.
Helnwein — the Austrian artist (painter, photographer, performance artist, filmmaker) who has a studio in downtown L.A. — is known for everything from Marilyn Manson videos to Holocaust installations. He is responsible for the sets, costumes and that ad (which, by the way, looks like an image from a recent staging of a Schumann oratorio that Helnwein designed in Düsseldorf).
Helnwein's vision of "Rosenkavalier" is monochromatic and a riot of color. It is oddly traditional yet seriously odd. It is updated but couldn't be more 18th century. And none of those opposites contradicts.
- The Los Angeles Opera's much-anticipated new production of Strauss's "Rosenkavalier" opened on Sunday night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and you can bet that the high-concept and boldly stylized sets and costumes by the designer and visual artist Gottfried Helnwein are going to provoke the strongest reactions.
Restraint was not a hallmark of the outlandishly captivating production. In a detailed program note, Helnwein writes that the era of Maria Theresa was a time when everything was theater, at least for the upper class, and that over-the-top fashion styles often included masks and white-face. His designs combine spartan sets with wildly extravagant costumes ranging in style from the surreal to the ridiculous. Act I is bathed in shades of blue. In their stiffly modern blue suits and blue-faced makeup, the Marschallin's notaries look like the members of Blue Man Group. In Act II, the mansion of Herr von Faninal, a wealthy commoner with aristocratic pretensions, glows with garish golden yellows. Faninal's servants could be creatures from "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," no doubt an intentional evocation: the production begins with projected scenes from Robert Wiene's 1926 silent film adaptation of "Der Rosenkavalier," and Wiene also directed "Caligari."
In any event, the cast seemed empowered by the production.
HELNWEIN - INVENTIVENESS GONE WILD IN AN EXTREME REALIZATION OF RICHARD STRAUSS' OPERA, STUNNINGLY REINVENTED IN BRILLIANT LIVING COLOR.
The Hollywood Reporter Madeleine Shaner 24. June 2005
What dominates, however, in a manner I've seldom seen is Helnwein's use of color -- the monochromatic blue of Act 1 even extends to skin color. Herr von Faninal's house is bathed in a rich golden sheen, from the orange glow of Ochs' silly wig to the platinum of the lovely Sophie's almost-there dress. The final act, in a cheap restaurant, is mainly a glaring red, again from Ochs' wig to his skin and the costumes of the huge band of players. The walls of the restaurant are, incidentally, lined with Helnwein's own works, mainly huge photo-realistic portraits of contemporary women. The 200 costumes Helnwein designed for the piece deserve a whole review for themselves this is inventiveness gone wild, a genius concept, and a huge addition to the production. There might be purists in disagreement here, but this would seem to be a "Rosenkavalier" for the ages.
Gottfried Helnwein, who designed the sets and costumes for the 'Rosenkavalier,' arouses creative tumult. Los Angeles Times Scott Timberg 8. June 2005
"Great music, amazing singers — for many opera fans that is enough," Helnwein says, sitting outside his studio in downtown L.A.'s artist district. "But I believe in the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk, the art that includes all arts. And that means you have visual art, you have directing, you have choreography, and of course you have the music and the singing. What makes opera such an interesting art is that everything comes together."
Times music critic Mark Swed called the production "terrific" and described its look as "sensational." The New York Times was also enthusiastic.
K-Mozart - classical music radio P.J. Ochlan 03. June 2005
Along with direction by cinema great Maximilian Schell, this original go at Richard Strauss’ opera of the young rose-bearer was designed by Viennese visual virtuoso Gottfried Helnwein. The team has created a surrealist environment undefined by any specific time or place. Visually, characters range from over the top froo-froo to contemporary, with nightmarish interpretations of Venetian masqueraders and creeping minions of the lecherous Lerchenau in between. Each act is bathed in its own primary color suited to the general feeling as if you’re watching through a giant mood ring.
MARVELLOUS DESIGNS OF AUSTRIAN-BORN VISUAL ARTIST GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN
Classical 96.3 FM Toronto's Classical Music Radio Station Paula Citron 01. June 2005
The Los Angele Opera's compelling new production of Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier" bears the intriguing vision of Hollywood legend, actor/director Maximilian Schell, and the marvellous designs of Austrian-born, Los Angeles-based visual artist Gottfried Helnwein.
Helnwein's brilliant costumes are character driven. Sophie's duenna Marianne (soprano Susan Foster) is garbed like a Shakespearean nurse, Sophie is an idealized Helen of Troy, while the schemers Valzacchi and Annina (tenor Anthony Laciura and mezzo-soprano Margaret Thompson) could be straight out of Mozart's "Don Giovanni'. In short a production that clearly needs to be visited again and again to fully reveal its symbolic and metaphoric riches.
Perhaps the greatest glory of this "Der Rosenkavalier" is its visual unpredictability.
THE ROSENKAVALIER INDEED, IS ONE OF THE COMPANY’S GREAT TRIUMPHS
LA WEEKLY Alan Rich 10. June 2005
.. a visual rewrite of a work so encrusted in a much-observed tradition that you’d think the slightest new move might upset the balance. But no, from the opening in a bedroom furnished not in period fustian but in bare walls magically drenched in Alan Burrett’s saturated lighting, to the glorious overstatement of the look of the Baron himself, who seems costumed in neon, to the Marschallin’s final entrance, when the flush of her face seems to have drained into the unsexed blue of her gown, this is a story told in color and transformed — by the design genius of Gottfried Helnwein — into a Rosenkavalier freshly renewed.
Gottfried Helnwein. 20 Jahre nach dem Abgang aus Österreich mischt er L.A. auf – und kehrt mit einer Grossausstellung heim.
Nun findet sich die Antwort auf die Frage nach dem Verbleib Gottfried Helnweins in massiven Schlagzeilen der “New York Times” und der “Los Angeles Times”. “Ein Aufstand der Farben, exzentrisch, anachronistisch, wundersam”, jubeln die Kalifornier. Die Kollegen von der Ostküste schreiben von “ausserirdischer Faszination und wilder Extravaganz”. Gottfried Helnwein hat an der von Placido Domingo geleiteten Oper von Los Angeles den “Rosenkavalier” von Richard Strauss ausgestattet. Maximilian Schell inszenierte, Kent Nagano dirigierte, und die Premiere zu Wochenbeginn geriet dem alten Fuchs Domingo zum Clou der amerikanischen Opernsaison. Schon in den Überschriften aber wird klargestellt, wer hier der Chef war: Gottfried Helnwein nämlich, geboren in Wien als Sohn eines Postbeamten, Konzeptkünstler, Fotograf, Filmer, unvergleichlich resistent gegen Katalogisierungen.
Gottfried Helnwein brings his monochromatic technique to stage in the L.A. Opera's Der Rosenkavalier.
For the last several months, Downtown-based artist Gottfried Helnwein has switched back and forth between two realities. In his Arts District studio, he works on material to fill gallery and museum shows booked into 2008, all over the world.
Then he steps out into the sunlight, chats in several languages to several friends at a coffee shop on Traction Avenue, and walks to the Los Angeles Opera's costume shop on Alameda Street. Here, he oversees the costumes and sets for Der Rosenkavalier, which opens May 29 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
ARTIST GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN ISN'T IN KANSAS ANYMORE.
THEBOOK Los Angeles Mia Taylor 02. September 2005
Recently Helnwein became the focus of a controversy with his radical stage and costume design for the Los Angeles Opera’s production of Der Rosenkavalier.
His three monochrome, primary colored sets, with cast dressed to match, save for one character doused head to toe in a contrasting color (in the first act for instance, the Baron is like a daub of yellow paint thrown at a blue canvas), Alice in Wonderland rabbits, Jacobins on stilts, eerie bandaged children, ultimately won glowing reviews and high attendance. Helnwein remains sanguine about the experience, as he does over every other controversy he’s found himself embroiled in in the course of his 20 year career.
Maximilian Schell und Gottfried Helnwein inszenieren den "Rosenkavalier"
Helnwein, ein Ziehkind von Los Angeles mit Atelier im Gewerbeviertel von Downtown, spielt den Zeiten einen(Genie-)streich. So schmust im ersten Akt die brokatgewandete Marschallin mit einem punkblau gefärbten Octavian. Die Hofgesellschaft tobt kreischend durchs Palais Faninal, Bugs Bunny und Men in Black mittendrin, Lemuren und Außerirdische unter sich. Der immer bravouröse Ochs des Kurt Rydl macht sich im rot ausstaffierten Salon über das Mariandl her; Helnweinsche Frauenporträts strahlen von den Wänden, ein Fest nur scheinbar unschuldiger Erotik. Seine Modernisierung ist nostalgisch, ein Farbenfest, zuweilen merkwürdig anklingend; ohne aber je dem traditionellen Rahmen zu entfallen.
WITH GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN, 'DER ROSENKAVALIER' WALKS THE LINE
Los Angeles Downtown News Marc Porter Zasada 03. June 2005
The 21st century artist Gottfried Helnwein has succeeded for many of the same reasons as Strauss, and you would think he'd be the perfect man to design new sets and costumes for Rosenkavalier. In his Downtown Los Angeles studio, Helnwein paints photorealistic portraits of beautiful women, innocent children and Irish landscapes, then undercuts it with grotesque images of the damaged and the misbegotten. His theater design follows the same lead. Like Strauss, Helnwein's art is strangely populist at the same time it revels in morbid undertones.
The marriage is a happy one: Helnwein plays with a monochromatic canvas (each act has its own color, including face paint); has fun with big, cartoonish Alice-in-Wonderland costumes; and does sometimes hint at the decadent underbelly of the work.
L.A. Opera scores with striking ‘Der Rosenkavalier'
Visuals that can overpower the delicate text and even occasionally seem at odds with the glittery, enrapturing music but that nonetheless are strikingly provocative in a museum-installation kind of way. Call the look postmodern Baroque, a kind of cool Fellini-esque phantasmagoria, done as artsy chic and maximized by Alan Burrett’s ingenious lighting. The outer acts have a single-hue, ghostly wash, with one or several of the central characters in blazing color from head to toe as stark contrast. The second act is a peachy gold, no spectral downside.
Yes, it will offend the traditionalists – those who look for straightforward 18th-century effects.
GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN HAT DEN "ROSENKAVALIER" IN L.A. AUSGESTATTET
National Television - Germany, Austria, Switzerland ZDF, ORF, SRG, ARD Alexander W. Rauscher 31. May 2005
Eine der beliebtesten Opern-Romanzen hat an der L.A Opera Premiere gefeiert: "Der Rosenkavalier" von Richard Strauss. Die Produktion in L.A. ist quasi in österreichischer Hand: Maximilian Schell führt Regie und Gottfried Helnwein ist für Bühnenbild und Kostüme verantwortlich. Nicht selten hat Helnwein in der Vergangenheit der Gesellschaft einen Spiegel vorgehalten und mit seinen Arbeiten zu Themen wie Kindesmissbrauch deutlich Stellung genommen. Fakt ist: Seine Kunst polarisiert. So auch in L.A.
Ruth Vitale President of Paramount Classics 19. June 2005
Dear Gottfried, I Went to see the opera on Thursday night with a few of my friends. We had SUCH a good time ---mostly because the costumes were absolutely INCREDIBLE! I was so proud of you, I cannot tell you how much so! All I can say is that you should be doing movies with Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. You have no equal!
REMARKABLE SET AND COSTUME DESIGN BY ARTIST GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN.
Upworld 09. June 2005
Los Angeles is blessed with a wealth of talented artists who make their home here, and the LA Opera has benefited from this rich local talent pool, having had opera sets designed by artists like David Hockney and operas directed by great Hollywood directors. This production of Der Rosenkavalier was directed by Maximilian Schell, and with remarkable set and costume design by artist Gottfried Helnwein.
The Classical Music Network Christie Grimstad 01. June 2005
Much of the credit in this year’s new production of Der Rosenkavalier goes to Gottfried Helnwein, scenery and costume designer. Steeped in Austrian visual art, his motto declares: “Art must excite, amaze or shock, startle, or inspire.” Indeed, he does in this work. Each act is tailored to a symbolic color scheme: Act I, blue-expectation/morning, Act II, gold and yellow-neuvo riche, and Act III, red-love, hate, revolution. Over 200 costumes are required in this performance since many of the principals appearing in each act require three (or perhaps more, such a Octavian) different colored outfits and make-up. The different shades of primary colors (palette of the Rococo Era) came to life in these rather stark sets, yet this is exactly the key to Helnwein’s artistic success: reducing visual means, and enhancing a stronger message. The intrinsic value of colors becomes more apparent, and yields a deeper impact on one’s subconscious.