Insights into the new production by designer Kristen Pullen
“I’ve approached the opera by emphasizing the separate worlds Britten’s characters inhabit. The men are in their army camp, certain of their authority and virility. They view women as either whores or—in very rare cases—saints. But the women have their own sphere, where they talk and dream and make a life for themselves separate from the coarse political machinations of the men. As Bianca wryly notes, it’s the men who make the noise. When Tarquinius and then Collatinus and Junius come into the women’s world, they destroy it. The myth tells us that the destruction is necessary in order to usher in democracy, and the opera tells us that this pagan turmoil is vanquished by Christian piety. I hope that our production honors Britten’s intent but also underscores the timelessness of how the conflict between the martial and the domestic, the powerful and the vulnerable, the craven and the steadfast is often written on the bodies of women and through their sexual violation. We’ve chosen to make the rape central to the production but unstaged, using the bed as a looming reminder of the violence at the core of the myth.”
“The lighting concept for The Rape of Lucretia has developed as a supporting narrative for the characters and their actions in the opera. Using the theme of shadow and light, the the roles of masculinity and femininity will become magnified to enhance the monstrosity of the male protagonist’s (Tarquinius) actions as well as the catastrophic results of his reckless misdeeds.
Without giving too much away, Lucretia will be tragic in its beauty and striking in its timelessness, telling an ancient story that still resonates today. Working with Gennie Neuman, we developed a simple yet versatile design with lighting elements that serve to not only set the tone of each scene but also function as scenery, a way to dictate time within the story, and also resonates as a metaphor for the characters in the opera. As the opera progresses, the lighting in a sense gets wrapped up in the energy of the narrative only to be fragmented, much like Lucretia herself. “