One Delightful Day – June 17th, Idomeneo

20 Jun

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of working with numerous models and artists to create a photo to illustrate the antagonist of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo”, who is the god of the sea, Neptune.

In the play “Idomeneo”, the Cretan army returns home safely, thanks to the benevolence of Neptune and his family. Mozart set the scene to a large, Greek-style chorus called “Nettuno s’onori” (Let Neptune be Honored). The chorus sings a very descriptive song about the god of the sea, Neptune, and what he and his family are doing in the sea as they celebrate the troops return to their wives and children. While Neptune is meant to appear in various scenes in the opera, the stage directions do not call for him to appear during this chorus. However the song is so lengthy and descriptive, that I decided to illustrate the scene as described by the lyrics.

The chorus calls for Neptune, his wife, Amphitrite, the Queen of the Sea, his sister-in-law, Galatea, the goddess of fountains, his son Triton, his sisters, cousins and aunts, the Nereids, and even some animals like the Hippocampus and Dolphin. I had six models appear to play the roles, and two make-up artists came to do the styling. Lizzie Hatfield joined me as usual, as well as Anna Wong, who heard of the project from one of the models and volunteered to help! As per usual, the costumes were all made by me.

Caenaan rigged Galatea’s vessel ‘o’ water to shoot like a fountain.

Joining me on my trip to Missoula was my friend, and fellow artist, Zack. He portrayed Neptune. Neptune is generally depicted as being very muscular, because the sea was viewed as being very powerful. I wanted to find someone who was both muscular and also lean, like a swimmer — every detail in this shoot is supposed to evoke the sea. It was a veritable blessing to meet someone so suited for the role at the time I started putting the shoot together! Zack helped me build Neptune’s helmet, which consists of hundreds of seashells. Since Neptune is the antagonist of the opera “Idomeneo”, I always thought it would be distracting or disappointing to just see some bearded dude hanging out pointing at characters. I wanted to add some menace and take away his emotions by equipping him with an emotionless helmet and mask. This is something I even imagined the first time I heard the opera!

Zack talks to Remy.

Also joining me was my good friend, Roman, who came along with me to Missoula to model as Triton, herald of the Sea. Triton is the first born son of Neptune and Amphitrite, and has horns and fish tails for legs. All of Neptune’s children are monsters, and I believe this in partially because sea creatures generally looking terrifying, and partially because the sea was always ever-changing and threatening to the ancients.

Anna Works on Roman’s make-up. I put some gems and glitter on his body.

The costume for Triton was taken from an illustration of the same character by the painter Barbier.

The cover of Falbalas et Fanfreluces 1924 by Barbier which features two Tritons in blue which inspired my costume for Triton.

Emma, who participated in another Mozart photo for “Il Re Pastore”, returned to appear as Amphitrite, the Queen of the Sea. Her dress was done up in a Rococo style to draw an element of Mozart’s era into the photo. Her dress looks like a lobster tail, with a skirt of flowing waves.

Lizzie does Emma’s make-up. Emma in full costume as Amphitrite.

She also wears a ship in her hair, which, due to it’s height and placement, got tangled in Roman’s Triton horns when they both reached for the same rock to adjust their seating. Neither was used to having things extending that far off their heads! The ship broke off of its clip and had to be re-attached mid-shoot!

The cast looks hilariously bored as they wait for the Queen of the Sea’s hat to be fixed in the house. Remy texts on an invisible cell phone.

Galatea, goddess of fountains, was portrayed by Adrienne. She also got to wield a mighty Water Bazooka which Caenaan, Lizzie’s husband, rigged up before the shoot. The effect was pretty cool, but it was too loud to keep on while directing the cast, so I only got a few shots of it spouting water. Galatea’s costume was decked out in coins, because I thought that would be a fun tie in to how people always throw coins in fountains!

Anna does Adrienne’s make-up. Adrienne in full costume as Galatea with her water bazooka, andZack as Neptune.

It was actually quite difficult to find some Nereids, or sea Nymphs, to be in the shoot. I had many people agree to appear, but then also have to drop out of the shoot. The night before the shoot, without any model to fill the role, a different Adrienne — the one who portrayed Hypsicratea in my last shoot — messaged all of her friends to help me find a model! I was pleased to welcome Remy and Ronni to the shoot on short notice!

Lizzie does Ronnette’s hair. Roman, Remy and Ronni have a laugh.

The shoot lasted from around 6pm until Midnight. We shot in Lizzie and Caenaan’s pond in their back yard. There’s no clear photo of it, but I sat in the water the entire time as well! You could actually feel the temperature drop as night wore on through the water. I made the mistake of standing up once to take a break from the water, and the air made me cold, so I immediately sat back down in the water!

Remy as a Nereid. Lizzie sneaks up behind the models to join in the fun!

As Lizzie said, “Who wouldn’t enjoy wearing silly hats while half-naked and covered in glitter, sitting in a freezing pond… in the middle of the night?”

The shoot was a lot of fun, and was made very pleasant by the friendly and easy-going cast and crew! Thanks everybody!

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