Bloody opera: Lucia Di Lammermoor!

One of the aspects of freelancing that I like: is the pleasant surprise of a new assignment: one never knows what’s coming up next.

For many years, I have been contacted by several Opera houses across the USA and Canada to promote upcoming operas. All of them have been a blast to paint and fun to work on.

First let me admit to a little truth: I do not dislike opera as an art form: just no a big fan. I highly respect the vocal talent of the performers, I like the music, like some of the theatrical presentations; simply a respectful appreciator of operas.

I do love the dynamic of the storyline of operas: because they are rich in visuals: settings, era, etc! For those of you who are not familiar with operas and some of their story lines: in a lot of cases it revolves around a love triangle: boy loves girl and other boy loves the same girl: etc, with some variations. Of course I’m making a rough generalization; but you get the idea.

I was contacted by the Cincinnati Opera to create a visual for the opera: Lucia Di Lammermoor. In the multitude of operas out there: this tragic opera (Lucia Di Lammermoor) is known as a “bloody” opera by some people. It is a 3 acts, tragic opera, written by Gaetano Donizetti in 1835: based on Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor.

Here’s the quick synopsis: there is a feud between two Scottish families: the Ravenswood and the Lammermoor: Lucia is forced into a loveless marriage: she goes nuts and killed her new husband on their wedding night…!

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Here are some of the quicks sketches done for the client’s presentation: when dealing with an opera poster: one thing to keep in mind is that the image should feel familiar to the opera loving crowd. Also it should have an intriguing appeal for the viewers who are not knowledgeable about that specific opera or if we’re lucky: attract new converts to the opera.

Because of the story of Lucia Di Lammermoor: being rather violent: killing her husband on their wedding night: it’s almost inevitable to choose that part of the opera as an iconic situation to create drama.

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I opted to use the wedding bands as handcuffs to show the desperation of her captive situation. As discussions progressed with the Cincinnati Opera (great people to deal with): the dagger was removed and what was drips of blood on her wedding gown.

After some back and forth: they wanted the “violent” aspect  of a blood stained dress toned down: so flower petals replaced the blood drops: to make the image more neutral for the general public. Compromises are inevitable sometimes.

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Starting to block in the colours and tones.

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Slowly deepening the elements. By doing that it helps deciding the importance of some elements as to their perception order.

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Starting to punch highlights and contrasts.

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Addition of the wedding bands and starting to add some iridescent colours into the white dress to add some interest. It breaks down the monotony of just plain white.

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By “pumping” the dress in certain areas; it helps to draw the viewer’s eyes to different “hotspots highlights” to fight the stilness of a central figure. I have to admit that I like the way these subtle colours to the dress add interest!

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