Mise en Scene

Despite the huge amount of theatre going on in Manchester, tonight is classical music and I return to a favourite theme – how do you make classical music more interesting?  It’s something I’ve looked at before, and I am convinced the answer is to combine perfect sound with an intimate, visually stunning set.

Mise en Scene is a collaboration between the RNCM and Manchester School of Art to create a ‘multi-sensory venue through art installations, projections, atmospheric effects, images, light and aroma’.  The music is by Berlioz, Poulenc and Vaughan Williams and is beautifully played by the RNCM Chamber Orchestra.

The key to making this work is to match the emotional impact of the images to the sound.  A simple white on black dancing figure projected on the rear wall was a powerful partner to Berlioz, as were shimmering, brightly coloured shadows of the sopranos that changed intensity with the music.  Poulenc was accompanied by hundreds of gliding birds, white and far away on the wall but bright coloured and swooping towards you on the organ pipes.  A stunning effect.  A fox chasing a hare across the wall showcased clever video animation techniques.  Vaughan Williams was themed around the stars and planets and whilst visually interesting, was too fast and in a conflicting mood to the baritone voices.  Throughout the performance the floor was lit according to sonic vibrations on a cup of water; an effective idea that reflected the tempo of the music.  So many ideas; so hard to do justice to the incredible amount of work that had gone into this performance.  Paper flowers dropped from the ceiling; clothing was themed for the performance.

It’s a wonderful concept that can be built upon.  At heart, there were innovative and interesting ideas.  Some worked well, others needed development.  But with fine tuning, and ensuring a perfect fit between the music and the art, this could be spectacular.  Perhaps a candidate for some home grown talent at MIF17?

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

One Response to “Mise en Scene”

  1. Andrew Wild says:

    How do you make classical music more interesting?



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