The opera is synonymous with excess, be it 3 story high sets towering over the audience, 4-foot hoop skirted gowns swishing across the stage, or thousands of twinkle lights suspended from above. But the production I saw tonight was different. With the exception of a large clock, the stage held a single bench against a moon gray wall. The opera began and immediately something felt different. As the night went on, I realized that instead of watching, I was truly feeling the story of Alfredo and Violetta. The hopelessness, the love, the anger, the joy, and the sadness were visceral.
With the stage stripped clean, the clutter gone, the story was the focus. As a result, every detail served as an intense emotional connection between the audience and the story—a leather couch, black and white tuxedos worn by the entire cast and of course, the enormous clock reminding us of time’s imposed limit. The only exception was Violetta who was in red in the sea of blacks and grays, making her vulnerability so transparent. The clean lines and calculated design were restrained, yet within this setting, made huge statements. Nothing was wasted; symbolism was created with each move, each object.
It hit me! I loved feeling this story because it was affecting me in the same way I strive to affect my clients. The details are what transmit emotion. The way the red stood out among the blacks and grays, the way the bench appeared against the stark gray wall. It all combined to create a feeling, an experience.
The sublime atmosphere when I left the opera house was proof that this minimalist and modern production was timeless. This kind of intelligent design is what motivates me from within. The way emotions are evoked subconsciously to create a feeling, ultimately creates the experience.
I see a project in my future. A minimalist lobby, a giant clock and a receptionist… of course in red. Indeed, sometimes less is more.