Sunday, my desk is in the Huntington Park in Pasadena California. The reason to be here is the opening of Figaro at the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles with costumes designed by Azzedine Alaïa – I admit a long way to travel for an opera, but I could not miss seeing the Alaïa designs for this new expression in his work. And they were clearly wonderful. Reds and Whites that worked with and played off of the sets of Jean Nouvel. A memorable evening and worth the journey.
This 180° view of Los Angeles was the welcome dinner party by Deborah Borda of the Philharmonic for Azzedine Alaïa, Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel at the Soho House. All recalled how the collaboration started: Frank Gehry asking two other architects he respects, Jean Nouvel and Zaha Hadid to collaborate on two of the three Mozart operas with texts by Da Ponte. Gehry himself last year doing the sets for “Don Giovanni”, this year Nouvel “Le nozze di Figaro” and next ” Cosi fan tutte” by Hadid – and all to be conducted by Dudamel.
The Frank Gehry theatre at the Philharmonic was a good challenge for Jean Nouvel to do a dramatic presentation that was perfectly matched to the theatre and with the Opera. When it was lit bright red,
the drama filled the audience with good expectations.
It was a good feeling to see Azzedine Alaïa and Jean Nouvel take a bow together on stage, after all those long months of work and conversations and the questionings, and explorations and now – the process is over, it is time for a bow… ready to start something new, it is not an end but a beginning.
Dorothea Roschmann singing as the countess Almaviva seen here in red, a beautiful color for the Nouvel set. Her voice is astonishing and received endless applause,
her dress reflecting her voice.
Alaïa had never created costumes for a theatrical performance, nor previously designed menswear. Over the course of meetings with Jean Nouvel and Dudamel in Paris and the 11 performers traveling to his Paris atelier for fittings Alaïa made specific designs for each of them. Here the cast is seen all together at the end of the Opera.
Edwin Crossley-Mercer, a robusto French baritone who portrays Figaro in the Opera, took all of us to the Huntington gardens in Pasadena for a day of serenity in nature. The gardens are a widely different selection of outdoor “rooms” filled with an amazing number of plants. And since Mr Huntington’s death in 1927 have been growing and growing. But of them all, the cactus gardens are my favorite and are just astonishing and, of course, there is the perfect climate for them in Pasadena.