I was surprised to discover during my research- That David Hockney as well as Salvador Dali ( although Davids were much more well recieved) also dabbled in Set Design. He created Sets and Costumes for a selection of Opera’s.

Here is an article about his stage design career: http://www.nytimes.com/1991/01/10/arts/david-hockney-is-back-in-opera-with-a-few-ifs-ands-and-buts.html

David Hockney, one of the most popular British artists of the 20th century, is known in particular for his iconic pop art of the 1960s. In the 70s, however, he began to develop operatic stage designs and created elaborate sets for productions in New York, France and Vienna. His stylized neoclassical set and costumes for Glyndebourne’s production of The Rake’s Progress in 1975 is widely considered to be a benchmark staging of the opera. Similarly, in 1978, his colourful set for Die Zauberflöte at Glyndebourne, which emphasised ancient Egyptian motifs and magical themes, received as much critical acclaim as the performance itself.

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Here are some images of his set designs for the Production: “The Rakes Progress” i think they are quite revolutionary and i haven’t seen these kinds of designs used in theatre until now, they are almost quite graphic design influenced yet whimsical. Now when i googled his set designs i found some more modern examples too, a set he designed for Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow), Op. 65, is an opera in three acts by Richard Strauss with a libretto by his long-time collaborator, the poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It was written between 1911 and either 1915 or 1917

Now the sets he made for this production, were surreal and utterly amazing because the atmosphere changed depending on the lighting, i have sourced 4 images below of the same set with different lighting to show the changes in mood: click to view larger


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i’ve found these to be a very abstract interpretation of a stage set, something which i haven’t seen very often in theatre design and the shapes and forms are really interesting and quite stunning, especially the trees in the above set. I think also his use of mark making on the trees will influence how i create my own for my sets.


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