Boston Ballet announced Robert Perdziola
as the set and costume designer for the new production of the holiday classic The Nutcracker
, which will debut in November 2012. The new production will be created throughout 2012 and designed for The Boston Opera House, Boston Ballet’s home venue.
Perdziola has designed sets and costumes for the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opera Boston, Glimmerglass Opera, Manhattan School of Music, and the Juilliard School of Drama. His designs for ballet include sets and costumes for American Ballet Theatre’s Pillar of Fire
and Le Spectre de la Rose
, scenery designs for Miami City Ballet’s The House of Bernarda Alba
, and sets and costumes for San Francisco Ballet’s Reflections of Saint Joan
We took a moment with Robert to get to know a bit more about his work, his process and his vision for Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker
. BB: What was your journey to becoming a designer?
I became involved in theatre when I was eleven. I volunteered to help paint scenery with the local high school and that led to community theatre. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to design the vision that one sees on a stage. When you begin the process of designing for ballet, theatre, or opera, what is the first step?
When beginning any design, I will listen to the score, view any visual historical material I can access, meet with the director/choreographer, and read the script or libretto. How is designing for ballet different than other theatre productions?
Of opera, theatre, and ballet, ballet clothing can be the most challenging of the three. There are numerous limitations, restrictions to movement, weight limitations. One must always be aware of how something will move for the dancer; it must be at one with them, an extension of their movement. The fabric and shape must look like it is organic to the dance and not imposed on it. When all this works for a designer, the designer's work will never look as good as when a dancer wears the clothes so in that it is the most rewarding design experience.
The scenery for ballet is generally more atmospheric than that for opera or theatre. But this is not always the case. The scenery for ballet is best realized I think with a quick shorthand, stroke, or reference in the visual design. If there is too much there it seems like your idea starts to sink. One must become an editor. Do you have a first memory of seeing The Nutcracker performed?
I first saw a televised Baryshnikov version of Nutcracker
when I was a kid. It was very beautiful and inspiring. What do you see as the role sets and costumes play for the audience?
I think that the music, for me, calls out for a visual illustration of the story of the ballet. It is all there in the music and the visual needs to follow that. You can hear the mice playing, you can hear the tree growing, you can hear the snowflakes, you can hear the flowers waltzing. So the visual needs to be at one with that and match it. What do you see as the role sets and costumes play for the dancers in a ballet?
In this ballet the costumes need to inform the dancers of who they are and their style of movement and level of animation. For this ballet the visual can be open to much interpretation regarding visual style, so the sets and costumes set the course for the dancers. For those viewing this, the audience, they are on a journey for the evening, and they must be carried along happily, and in the end leave satisfied.