Geneva Anderson digs into art

Peter Sellars’s new “Griselda” collaboration with L.A. artist Gronk hits a new level of bold, but never without cause

Los Angeles artist Gronk created a 110 ft x18 ft mural─bold, colorful and abstract─which is the set for Peter Sellars’ new production of Vivaldi’s “Griselda,” at Santa Fe Opera. People either love or hate it. Photo: courtesy Bob Godwin, Santa Fe Opera

Ask anyone who’s been to the Santa Fe Opera this summer and no one is neutral about Peter Sellars’s new production of Vivaldi’s Griselda.  At the heart of the production and the spirited debate is the set, a huge —110’ x 18’— abstract mural painted by Los Angeles artist Gronk which has such a powerful dramatic presence that it literally defines the drama occurring in front of it.  There are several things that are unique about this innovative set that I, a newcomer to opera but long-time visual arts writer, found interesting and appealing.  Most fascinating was that  the end product perfectly meshed with Peter Sellars’s idea that the set design should provide the strong dramatic framework lacking in the Vivaldi opera itself.  And while lots of artists have “created” opera sets —David Hockney among the most famous—Gronk’s level of involvement is unprecedented as he painted everything himself, without assistance.  I attended the July 20th performance and spoke with Peter Sellars, Gronk, and some of the performers in the production about the role of this stunning mural.  (Stay tuned for the interviews)

Los Angeles artist Gronk has collaborated with Peter Sellars on 5 productions. Sellars believes that Gronk’s abstract mural for “Griselda” at Santa Fe Opera transcends tradition in set design and provides the dramatic framework lacking in Vivaldi's opera itself. Photo: courtesy Bob Godwin, Santa Fe Opera

August 16, 2011 Posted by | Opera | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment