Author(s): Denise Wendel-Poray
The intertwining of visual and musical arts at the beginning of the 20th century brought on modernism, abstraction and in music, atonality. This meeting of the arts was never so intensive as on the operatic stage. In her book Painting the Stage. Opera and Art, curator and art and music critic Denise Wendel-Poray first examines historic productions beginning with Schinkel's iconic stage design for Mozart's Magic Flute, before exploring those of the 20th century with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes and the implication of avant-garde artists in opera up until World War II. Directly after the armistice of 1945, famous artists such as Andre Derain, Balthus, Dali, Andre Masson and Kokoschka reopened the theaters amidst ruins, thus ushering in a new era of optimism. The event of pop art, happenings and experimental theatre with the collaboration of artists Robert Indiana, David Hockney, Robert Wilson brought on further developments in the realm of opera. Finally, interviews with world famous artists such as Anselm Kiefer, William Kentridge, Bill Viola, Robert Longo, Jonathan Meese and Daniel Richter show how their contribution to the genre is making opera today more than ever, a form of "total art" or "Gesamtkunstwerk" and a laboratory of contemporary creation.
Denise Wendel-Poray is a Canadian writer and critic holding degrees from Yale University in Connecticut, and McGill University in Montreal. Formerly an opera singer, she performed principal roles throughout Europe (Covent Garden, l Opera de la Bastille, Theatre du Chatelet). She is the author of several books and essays concerning the relationship between art, theatre and music. (Frauen-Liebe und Leben, Hatje-Cantz, 2013) She has been curator and music adviser for the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, Germany, and guest lecturer on stage decor at the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf. She lives and works in Paris."