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Mozart Reimagined – Die Zauberflöte

2 Sep

Mozart Reimagined by Tyson Vick will feature photos illustrating Mozart’s “Die Zauberflote”, an amazing fantasy adventure opera.

Mozart Reimagined features six photos by Tyson Vick illustrating the opera Die Zauberflote

Mozart Reimagined features six photos by Tyson Vick illustrating the opera Die Zauberflote

Mozart Reimagined showcases nearly 100 photos that bring to life Mozart’s operas through photography. I spent a decade building props and sets, meeting models and photographing across the country to showcase what Mozart’s music has meant to me. The book also features essays written about each opera from my own unique perspective. The book humorously points out plot-holes, gives insight into past and present performances, recites a little bit of History and overflows with my own passion for the music of Mozart.

Here’s an excerpt from the book which accompanies the Die Zauberflote pictures:

“At the end of nearly every ensemble, the fourth wall is broken as the characters reveal the moral of the story. Here they say, “Only the harmony of friendship can alleviate our hardships; without such sympathy there is no happiness on earth.” The effect is much like a children’s storybook, and makes me think that the target audience for this opera included children, an audience mostly untapped by opera, and, as we know today, the most profitable audience to tap.”

Die Zauberflote Act 1 by Tyson Vick

Die Zauberflote Act 1 by Tyson Vick

The adventuresome Javanese prince is played by the fantastically popular social media icon, Edward Zo who you can follow on Instagram and Youtube to get all of his latest videos, fashion tips, and more. You can see some behind-the-scenes photos of Edward and The Queen of the Night here.

Die Zauberflote Act 1c, by Tyson Vick

Die Zauberflote Act 1c, by Tyson Vick

The most perfectly cast model, a photographer named Jon, portrays Papageno. With him as my bird-man, I really felt my photos coming together. You can get a step-by-step look at how I built the tiny buildings for the photo of Papageno below in this blog post here.

Die Zauberflote, Act 2 by Tyson Vick

Die Zauberflote, Act 2 by Tyson Vick

I’m going to be giving you a preview of photos from every chapter of Mozart Reimagined over the next month, and then it will be time for pre-orders. I will be launching pre-orders on Kickstarter on September 14th, 2015! Until then, I wanted to give you a glimpse of some of the photos and excerpts from the book so you can see what’s in store! Subscribe to the blog for every update, or check back on September 14th for the launch of the book.

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Go Behind the Scenes with the Costume Sketches and Concept Art of Tyson Vick’s Photographic Mozart Illustrations

2 Feb

Whenever I take photos with big concepts, I start with concept art and costume sketches. Usually these aren’t so detailed that someone else can interpret them, but they are detailed enough for me to remember what I feel the need to include in an image. There are three types of art I can potentially do in order to help conceive my vision.

1. Costume Sketches

2. Concept Art

3. Thumbnails 

I use these three types of art to help me develop my ideas into costumes, find models and locations and compose images.


 

First up is a set of thumbnails I drew up for my illustrations of Ascanio in Alba. Interestingly, while I did photograph these things, I did not use any of these ideas in my final photograph.

Ascanio in Alba concept sketches

Ascanio in Alba concept thumbnails

Next is a sketch for Fiordiligi’s costume from the opera “Cosi Fan Tutte”. This character dresses up in her boyfriends military uniform.

Fiordiligi costume art for Cosi Fan Tutte

Fiordiligi costume art for Cosi Fan Tutte

Der Stein der Weisen was a fun opera to bring to life through illustration. Set in a fantastical Asian world, there was a lot to play with.

Der stein der Weisen concept sketch for Genie

Der stein der Weisen concept sketch for Genie

My genie is based off of Buddha and the maidens vying for his bird’s attention were drawn from Chinese inspiration.

Der Stein der Weisen costume concept for maiden

Der Stein der Weisen costume concept for maiden

The thumbnail below is followed by the image I produced.

Der Stein der Weisen concept sketch

Der Stein der Weisen concept sketch

Compare the thumbnail above to the finished image below to see how closely my concepts are followed.

Der Stein der Weisen Act 1. Photo by Tyson Vick. Hair & Make-up by Lizzie Hatfield. Models: Sierra Rae, Meilyn Saychow, Kolya Cain

Der Stein der Weisen Act 1. Photo by Tyson Vick. Hair & Make-up by Lizzie Hatfield. Models: Sierra Rae, Meilyn Saychow, Kolya Cain

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots didn’t have such a big concept process, I only needed the thumbnail to get an idea of what I wanted to get out of the final picture.

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots concept sketch

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots thumbnail sketch

You can compare the thumbnail above to the finished image below.

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots, Act 1 by Tyson Vick

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots, Act 1 by Tyson Vick

Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail was costumed out of clothes found in my friend and fellow costumer Camille’s closest. I thought about all the pieces she had available, and then combined them on paper as seen below.

A costume sketch based on Camille's costumes and set in the yellow void.

A costume sketch based on Camille’s costumes and set in the yellow void.

Below you can see some of these costumes in the finished image.

Mozart Project. Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail. Photo by Tyson Vick.

Mozart Project. Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail. Photo by Tyson Vick.

The Magic Flute is an opera I have extensively illustrated. When I first heard it, I was inspired to fill an entire sketchbook.

Queen of the Night Drawing

An early drawing of mine, illustrating the Act 1 Aria “O zittre Nicht”

But when I decided to use photography to bring these ideas to life, I did not know anything about costuming. So, I started petty small. I would probably go bigger today, especially with the Queen of the Night.

Papageno concept art

Papageno concept art

My costume ideas of Tamino and the Queen of the Night were based on what I could realistically make at the time.

Costume Sketches

Act 1 Costume Sketches for Tamino and The Queen of the Night

Tamino’s outfit is influenced heavily by Japanese history and video game costumes.

Tamino Costume Sketch for  my Magic Flute photos

Tamino Costume Sketch for my Magic Flute photos

Below you can see the outfit created from the above design.

zauberflote_act1a

Papageno was always meant to be a sort of bird version of a faun in my final image. I based his tattoos and look of of the Egyptian art of the Ba Spirit. A half-bird/half person creature represent a person’s soul.

Papageno costume sketch for my Magic Flute photos.

Papageno costume sketch for my Magic Flute photos.

Papageno was brought to life by Jon Sollee in the image below.

Die Zauberflote, Act 2 by Tyson Vick

Die Zauberflote, Act 2 by Tyson Vick

My Don Giovanni costume sketches were fairly blank, mostly focusing on shape.

Donna Elvira costume sketch for my Don Giovanni photos

Donna Elvira costume sketch for my Don Giovanni photos

In the end, Don Giovanni got a much more complicated white doublet, but the same cut still applies.

Don Giovanni costume sketch

Don Giovanni costume sketch

My thumbnails for Don Giovanni, below.

Don Giovanni concept art

Don Giovanni concept art

A set of Il Sogno di Scipione thumbnails.

Il Sogno di Scipone concept art

Il Sogno di Scipone concept art

Don Pippo of L’oca del Cairo and Lucio Silla, of Lucio Silla, costume sketches.

Don Pippo costume sketch for L'Oca del Cairo and Lucio Silla costume sketch.

Don Pippo costume sketch for L’Oca del Cairo and Lucio Silla costume sketch.

Compare the Lucio Silla Sketch to the final image.

luciosillatitle

La Finta Semplice was originally meant to feature five or so models, but they kept dropping out. Below was my last minute attempt to create some costumes that could be pulled from what I already owned.

La Finta Semplice costume sketches

La Finta Semplice costume sketches

The Marriage of Figaro photos were inspired by the image below, something I created after first hearing the opera a decade ago.

The Marriage of Figaro concept art

The Marriage of Figaro concept art

The Marriage of Figaro photos involved so many models and stylists, that I needed a thorough map of thumbnails to keep them straight.

The Marriage of Figaro Concept art

The Marriage of Figaro Concept art

I used the page below to keep track of which photos I had taken on the day.

The Marriage of Figaro concept art

The Marriage of Figaro thumbnail art

Compare the middle sketch above to the final image below.

FigaroAct2

For Mitridate, I based Aspasia’s outfit’s off of Historically accurate garb.

Aspasia costume sketch for my Mitridate photos

Aspasia costume sketch for my Mitridate photos

Farnace was also based off of History, but with a fantastical tattoo addition.

Farnace costume sketch for Mitridate

Farnace costume sketch for Mitridate

Compare the costume sketch above to the final costume below. I regret selling that cool pirate belt holding his cape up.

This is the photo that I will be showing you how I made! Mitridate, Act III, by Tyson Vick.

This is the photo that I will be showing you how I made! Mitridate, Act III, by Tyson Vick.

Finally, I end with the costume sketches for Zaide, another set of costumes pulled from my friend Camille’s closet.

Zaide costume sketches

Zaide costume sketches

I hope you enjoyed viewing all this concept artwork! I have much, much more, but none of it is scanned.

If you like following the creation of my illustrations of Mozart’s operas through photography, please feel free to subscribe to the blog! All you have to do is type your email into the box and the blog will be sent directly to your inbox from here on out! You don’t need to provide any information beyond your email!

Thanks for reading!

Happy Birthday Mozart!

27 Jan

I waited to post today, because today is Mozart’s Birthday!

This year Mrs. Nina Nöhrig of Mozarthaus Vienna and Brigitte Pfisterer of NetHotels.com, have invited Mozartians all over the world to submit a photo greeting for Mozart’s birthday to be presented at his former residence! My photo, and many others, will be displayed in a slideshow at Mozarthaus, today, January 27th, in honor of Mozart’s birthday.

Tyson Vick's photo illustrating The Magic Flute with a personalized message for Mozart's 259th birthday.

Tyson Vick’s photo illustrating The Magic Flute with a personalized message for Mozart’s 259th birthday.

This fun event was organized in part by Sherry Davis from The Chronicles of a Modern Day Mozartian, whose passion for Mozart continues to benefit lovers of Mozart the world over! Please head on over to her Facebook page to participate in similar events, and get the latest news on Mozart.

 

An image from the Mozarthaus slideshow! You can see my picture there!

An image from the Mozarthaus slideshow! You can see my picture there!  Photo by Brigitte Pfisterer. 

Creating Miniature Buildings for The Magic Flute

29 Dec

Die Zauberflote or The Magic Flute is one of Mozart’s and the world’s most famous operas. It is a fantasy story about an Asian Prince who has to undergo trials, and he is helped by his half-bird/half-man friend, Papageno.

At the end of the play the Prince has to face the challenges of the Fire Temple and the Water Temple using his Magic Flute.

I wanted these two temples to be a part of my final image, and I wanted them to be something you could focus your attention on once you were done admiring Papageno and Papagena!

Die Zauberflote, Act 2 by Tyson Vick

Die Zauberflote, Act 2 by Tyson Vick

I built these two temples as miniatures using blocks, balsa wood, craft foam, toys, expanding foam and styrofoam. First I drew a concept, and then imagined how to make it 3D in the physical world. Using toy blocks as a base, I built them up, like modeling with clay, but by using rigid pieces. Below you will see the beginning of the Fire Temple.

Using a child's toy block, balsa wood and craft foam, I made the base of the fire temple.

Using a child’s toy block, balsa wood and craft foam, I made the base of the fire temple.

Anything that looks right for my purposes is enlisted, including empty containers. A paper cup was mutilated for the top of the Fire Temple.

I cut apart a paper cup for the building up top.

I cut apart a paper cup for the building up top.

I wanted the fire temple to be a building built into a volcano. The concept was for the volcano to have erupted during the buildings existence, destroying part of it. To make the mountain I added expanding foam, the type used in home repair.

I added expanding foam to the block to create a mountain.

I added expanding foam to the block to create a mountain.

After the expanding foam was dry, I carved it like a mountain. I also added a cute toy sphinx, because The Magic Flute has a heavy Egyptian influence in the story.

Once the expanding foam dried, I carved it to look like a mountainside.

Once the expanding foam dried, I carved it to look like a mountainside.

After everything was primed, I painted the Fire Temple with colors that matched reality. There’s also a tiny Isis statue at the bottom, one of the gods who is praised in two different songs in the opera.

Here is the Fire temple painted.

Here is the Fire temple painted.

Looking at a close up of the top of the temple, you will see how I tried to make it look like a volcano had erupted.

A close up of the little Sphinx and melted building.

A close up of the little Sphinx and melted building.

The Water Temple, on the other hand, was less heavy and rocky. I wanted it to look like it was built on a plateau, but tha the water rushing out of the temple had eroded it so far over the years, that it was just sort of hanging on a hollowed out spire.

The water temple was made out of a toilet paper tube, styrofoam inster and more expanding foam.

The water temple was made out of a toilet paper tube, styrofoam insert from some random package.

I used a styrofoam insert for the base, and I loved the way it looked textured and rocky when painted. I think the styrofoam mixed with the expanding foam worked better than just the expanding foam alone.

The water temple gets it's own expanding foam piled on to the styrofoam.

The water temple gets it’s own expanding foam piled on to the styrofoam.

I primed this one in two colors. The black was for bricks. I carved brick shapes into the craft foam which was built over the toilet paper tube. When the carved foam is painted black, I could then lightly brush the surface with brick colors, grey and brown, and the black in the brick’s crevices would stay black, making the bricks pop, visually.

I primed the pieces in black and white. Black to create shadows, white for better color application.

I primed the pieces in black and white. Black to create shadows, white for better color application.

The little Grecian temple at the top of the water temple turned out very wonky and misshapen, but I fixed that in photoshop. I even added glitter to the greens so that little weird light effects would occur when the miniature was photographed for the composite image.

Here is the water temple painted.

Here is the water temple painted.

Viewing the completed composite once again, you will know how those tiny buildings were made! There are even more tiny buildings and cities seen throughout my project. Can you spot them all?

Die Zauberflote, Act 2 by Tyson Vick

Now, when you look at the image again, you will see the two temples flanking Papageno and Papagena! Die Zauberflote, Act 2 by Tyson Vick

Please subscribe to this blog if you like posts like this! Thanks so much!

Innovation, The Operas of Mozart

5 Jul

Mozart was an innovative operatic composer, in that his operas span every genre available at the time, and for one or two he created new genres. He wrote music for high drama, broad comedy, fantasy adventures, musical theater (Singspiel), religious pieces, intermezzos, one act-ers, festival theatricals (lots of ballet and chorus), private allegorically performances, cantatas and even oratorio.

Mozart wrote his first operatic work at ten years of age. It is interesting to note that he wrote many pieces that are operatic, but which he did not consider opera when tallying how many operas he had completed. This is most likely to do their length, subject matter and his maturity.

Some people may not know how operas are written, so I would like to clarify that Mozart composed music for “libretti” (which are little books of words and lyrics) written by different authors. He set someone else’s words to music and did not write the words himself. He collaborated with two notable authors in his lifetime: Varesco who wrote the book to his first mature work, “Idomeneo”, and the poet Da Ponte, whom he collaborated with on three of his most famous works, “Don Giovanni”, “Le Nozze di Figaro” and “Cosi Fan Tutte”. He also set quite a few of the texts written by the Shakespeare-of-Opera, Metastasio, an author whose plays were set by the most popular and influential composers of the 18th century, including Handel, Gluck, Haydn and Vivaldi. Metastasio did not hold what is known commonly today as a “copyright”, and therefore any work which he had written could be set and adapted by anyone who had access to his plays. This means that while Mozart set more works of Metastasio to music than any other librettist that he worked with, the two men never actually collaborated to create a new work together, except peripherally on “Lucio Silla”, on which Metastasio generously wrote the Act finales for the play’s struggling author.

Title Page Illustration from the First Edition of Don Giovanni. Engraving by P. Bolt after Vincenz Georg Kinninger.

Mozart often had a say in how the story was put together for an opera he was going to set, and he consistently chose texts about — or had the endings of texts altered to be about — “forgiveness”. Brotherhood and Forgiveness seemed to be Mozart’s inspiration from the start, and thematically link all of his plays (Though Don Giovanni inverts these ideas, and shows us what happens if we don’t treasure Brotherhood and what happens if Forgiveness is ignored and denied).

He was always inspired by his loving wife, as well, often writing music that would please her. Mozart also had a knack for finding inspiration in, and utilizing the talents of particular instrumentalists and singers, often linking them together in song. His most notable soprano music was inspired by and written for his sister-in-law, Aloysia Weber. Aloysia Weber was actually his teenage crush, as well, and pursuing her is how he met his wife!

The Queen of the Night from the Shinkel Magic Flute production of 1816 drawn by Carl Friedrich Thiele after designs by Sturmer

The most important operas of Mozart are: “Don Giovanni”, “The Marriage of Figaro” and “The Magic Flute”.  Don Giovanni is the most unique of all of his operas, belonging to an almost indefinable genre which encompasses intense psychological drama, broad comedy, romance, and most alarmingly of all, the supernatural thriller. Included in a full list of his mature works, you will also find, “Cosi Fan Tutte”, “La Clemenza di Tito”, “Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail” and “Idomeneo”.

All of these pieces are wonderful! However, for a novice who has just started to listen to the operas of Mozart, “Cosi Fan Tutte” is psychologically unsettling, “Idomeneo” is set in an older style (but has monsters), and “Don Giovanni” can be overwhelmingly intense, both musically and dramatically. I would recommend starting with “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail” (Which is more like a modern musical), or if you are a fan of fantasy, I would certainly recommend “The Magic Flute” as your starting point (It was mine).

Papageno from the Shinkel Magic Flute production of 1816 drawn by Carl Friedrich Thiele after designs by Sturmer

Mozart also wrote music to be inserted into other plays and operas, but these are generally singular arias or ensembles. Only recently was it discovered how much he contributed to the fantastical “Der Stein Der Weisen”. Not all of his contribution to this work is entirely documented, but a general rule to go by is, “If there’s a cat meowing in the scene, he wrote it.”

In this list I have included every theatrical work for which Mozart composed a significant amount of music. You will also find this list over on the right. It is how the blog is organized, and you can read posts about both each specific opera, and my photography and costume work on the photos of that opera. I hope to be organizing the blog better soon, where there will be posts about the making of one set of photos from beggining to end, giving away all of the secret details of the history, art, inspiration, and production of the operas and my photos.

LIST OF MOZART’S OPERAS

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots (Composed Act I of III)

Apollo et Hyacinthus

Bastien und Bastienne

La Finta Semplice

Mitridate

Ascanio in Alba

La Betulia Liberata (Oratorio)

Il Sogno di Scipione

Lucio Silla

La Finta Giardiniera

Il Re Pastore

Zaide (Abandoned)

Thamos (Incidental Music)

Idomeneo

Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail

L’oca del Cairo (Abandoned, Composed Act I)

Lo Sposo Deluso (Abandoned)

Der Schauspieldirektor

Le Nozze di Figaro

Don Giovanni

Cosi Fan Tutte

La Clemenza di Tito

Die Zauberflote

Der Stein der Weisen (Collaboration)

And Two Lengthy Cantatas

Grabmusik

Davidde Penitente

The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote) – Historical Stage Designs

18 Apr

I’ve been watching what my visitors like to read about, and the most popular page on my blog is devoted to The Queen of the Night in various historical productions. It’s also the post that’s the least commented on for how busy it is! I thought I’d vary a theme, and give my silent visitors another dose of Historical “Magic Flute” illustrations, from olden-timey productions!

We’ll start with what scholars believe may be designs from the first production!

This is possibly an illustration of the first scene from the first production of "Die Zauberflote". From Joseph and Peter Schaffer, 1791.

Tamino, Pamina and Papageno sit around jamming in their make-shift band. Tamino/Flute, Papageno/Magic Chimes, Pamina/Vocals. From Joseph and Peter Schaffer, 1791.

Next, we’ll move on to an early revival.

A lady (Papagena?) Indicates a Genie descending from the sky to Papageno. From Joseph Quaglio's 1793 production.

A Guard and what I can only assume is a completely nude Tamino, frolicking gaily in front of a temple of Firey Doom (Left) and a Temple of Watery Destruction (Right) -- like in Zelda but with more nudity! From Joseph Quaglio's 1793 production.

A group of Esoteric Priests of the Sun sing very, very slowly (on most recordings) about Isis and Osiris, numerous times. From Joseph Quaglio's 1793 production.

Next up is one of the more well known Early productions.

Before the Sun Temple, lo, the mighty Osiris, of whom many Esoteric Priests sing many long songs about! From Shinkel, 1816.

Sarastro's moody garden. This is probably where he goes to chillax whenever he needs a break from the endless, slow, praying to Isis and Osiris by the many Esoteric sun priests. From Shinkel, 1816.

The Queen of the Night's Palace. Notice the famous star arrangement in the background. This Screen was lifted to reveal the Queen sitting in those stars singing. From Shinkel, 1816.

Karl Friedrich Schinkel 1815

Here she is! Watch out, or she might ask you to stab somebody! She's got a thing for stabbing! Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 1816

Next up, another generation of Quaglio!

Palm Grove, with more stonework than palms. From Simon Quaglio's 1818 production.

Sarastro's camp. I think this is where Papageno wishes he was a mouse, so that he could hide from the mighty sorcerer. From Simon Quaglio's 1818 production.

The Temple of the Sun, with a Zodiac beam cutting through the esoteric symbolism of incense carrying ladies and wordy lines of latitude. The words are probably just the prayers to Isis and Osiris written out for the more forgetful Esoteric Sun Priests. I mean, they sing so Slowly, they're bound to forget the lyrics from time to time. From Simon Quaglio's 1818 production.

And here’s a straggler:

Papageno and Papagena rock the Magic Chimes like it ain't nobody's business! Schwerdgeburth after Ramberg, 1826.

Now all you lurkers, don’t be afraid to comment and talk about some of things you might like to see on my blog! I will be collecting historical pictures from all of Mozart’s operas, and whenever I get a good batch, I’ll be sure to put them up! See you all laters!

Die Zauberflote – Queen of the Night in Stage Design

7 Jan

After my last post about The Queen of the Night, I thought it might be fun to show some of the more popular design sketches for the character The Queen of the Night from Mozart’s “Die Zauberflote” throughout theater history.

Karl Friedrich Schinkel 1815

Queen of the Night by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 1815

The stage design for “Die Zauberflote” by Karl Friedrich Schinkel is one of the most famous artistic representations of The Queen of the Night. This image even influenced my own photographs, and I actually used the same arrangement of stars in the sky in my images of the Queen and Tamino.

Original "Die Zauberflote" Costume Sketches

The original costume sketches from the original production of Mozart's "Die Zauberflote" including a close-up of The Queen of the Night

Thierry Bosquet Queen of the Night design sketch

Thierry Bosquet Queen of the Night design sketch

Erte - Queen of the Night

Erte - Queen of the Night

Die Zauberflote by John Martinez

Die Zauberflote poster by John Martinez

Caramba "Die Zauberflote" Sketches, Tamino, Pamina

The Queen of the Night, Tamino and Pamina costume designs by Caramba for a Toscanini production of "Die Zauberflote"

Queen of the night by Simon Quaglio

Queen of the night by Simon Quaglio