Die Frau Ohne Schatten – St Petersburg

November 2009

Projected worlds at the Russian Premiere of
Richard Strauss’Die Frau Ohne Schatten

Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg

Jonathan Kent – Director:
“[…]how really thrilling and evocative the projections were. […]you gave us a really rich, dream-like, complex
visual narrative.”

Nina co-designed projections for the Opera “Die Frau Ohne Schatten”, that opened at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg in November 2009. This challenging opera in three acts is rarely performed since not only are there five major lead roles, which few opera companies can find within their resources, but also the libretto specifies numerous special effects that are very hard to realise successfully on stage.

Nina’s approach to video in Theatre as an integrated part of the spectacle was very much in line with the Director and Designer’s desire for the opera, who had planned to include projection from an early stage. The result was a show with not just special effects at key moments but an interwoven visual language that supported all the other elements of the opera throughout – musical and narrative.

The piece requires a demarcation of two contrast-ing worlds – fantasy and reality. Video elements within the scenes and ‘journey’ sequences between the worlds illustrate this. While the real world’s imagery remains more literal, that of the fantasy world is highly stylised; it is a place where set pieces can come alive and the air stirs with magic.

The two worlds also represent positive and negative spaces that eventually crossed over, highlighted in a play-off of negative and positive silhouettes, which also bring to light the theme of the shadow as an entity. Water and dye are also key elements in the opera and many of the sequences were inspired by the movement and nature of fluid, using footage shot especially for the show.

The projection rig consisted of 4 Barco DML 1200 moving head projectors and one Christie 20K projector.

In April 2011, the Opera was awarded two Golden Mask Awards: one for ‘Best Opera Production’ and one for Paul Brown as ‘Best Opera Production Designer’

The full opera is available here: