I was lucky enough recently to work backstage at The Scottish Opera’s touring production of La Boheme starring Celine Byrne. While I am vaguely predisposed to opera I don’t really know a huge amount about it so I wont embarrass myself by attempting a review. Plus, as a dresser, even if I had been able to hear all of it I couldn’t really see the stage from where I was standing backstage.
What I did hear and see was beautiful, kudos all round, but the best bit about my week was definitely the ‘commute’ – a 30 min walk – culminating in Daniel Libeskind’s beautiful Grand Canal Theatre.
Walking from Portobello Bridge to Grand Canal Square along the Grand Canal you move from a small-scale world, which is old and bucolic and lush, through to this great opening out of sky and water.
The theatre is jagged and complicated, like an origami crane. It is deeply assertive, deeply dynamic in its angles, in its sheer audacity.
The architectural concept of the theatre is based on stages: the stage of the theatre itself, the stage of the piazza, and the stage of the multiple level theatre lobby above the piazza. How this translates in execution can be seen from the photos below.
However, this didn’t immediately strike me as its primary intent. What I loved about the theatre was how ephemeral it looked in certain lights.
Libeskind has harnessed the reflections in the glass frontage of the theatre, bouncing images of itself back on itself and reflecting and refracting the buildings surrounding it. He has made something more shimmering than solid, something that interacts, is almost dependent on its environment.
Had I been asked to define its concept on first viewing I would have talked about the parallel between the constantly shifting light and the fleeting moment that is live performance, whether that be rock, theatre or opera.
Architecture is, as the cliché goes, frozen music…