Tag Archives: La Clemenza di Tito

Mozart Reimagined – La Clemenza di Tito

7 Sep

Mozart Reimagined by Tyson Vick will feature photos illustrating Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito”, an opera that holds a special place in my heart.

Mozart Reimagined features three photos by Tyson Vick illustrating the opera La Clemenza di Tito

Mozart Reimagined features three photos by Tyson Vick illustrating the opera La Clemenza di Tito

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 La Clemenza di Tito pictures:

“One of Mozart’s greatest and most complex characters, Vitellia, is in turn both the villain and the hero of the opera. Her heart wrenching journey from her murderous, driven hatred of the emperor to her realization that her only choice is to yield her own life to save another’s, is an expertly crafted musical story. Mozart penetrates into the depths of the human mind with how he sets this role.”


My friend Jacob Federspiel-Smith modeled in my first images for this project ten years ago as well as my final images for this opera. He appears in more photos than any other model across numerous photos in this book. You can see some behind-the-scenes stuff from the final shoot here.

You can also see some details from the costume used on Vitellia here.

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.

La Clemenza di Tito – The Gown That Became Vitellia’s

12 Jan

When I first decided to start making costumes from my Mozart Project, it was because I felt I could better bring to life the operas through photography with fantastical and historical costumes. At that time I had already taken a few photos, but felt that I could do better — produce better images — and on many occasions I did re-shoots to more accurately capture my vision. I made a red gown for one of those re-shoots, but never got around to using it. The shoot fell through or never worked out, and so the dress remained.

With only one photo left to take for the project, I decided I would just use that dress, no matter what Historical context it belonged in, just because I spent so much time and money on it. Therefore, this is the dress that Vitellia wears in my “La Clemenza di Tito” images.

Elizabeth shows off Vitellia's gown, make-up and headdress.

Elizabeth shows off Vitellia’s gown, make-up and headdress.

With no connections to Ancient Rome outside of the headdress, the gown actually seems to have a bit of a Medieval flair. Using it on Vitellia was simply a choice based on having a complex gown in the closet, made and never used. Very little thought went into how to make it work Historically, or anything. I did, however, base the headdress on ancient Roman headdresses.

When I was building this dress, my goal was to do elegant ribbon embroidery!

I bought and used numerous silk, polyester and blended ribbons to do the 3-D embroidery. I used beads and pearls, and the one thing I remember about creating this dress was that it started costing more than it was worth. I chose polyester for the gown, and the embroidery started to inflate in price 2-3 times more than the cost of the dress fabric, and as anybody with any sense knows, this is both bad and slightly inept, because the dress grows disproportionate in value if I ever wanted to resell. “Here’s a gown that cost $45 in fabric and has hundreds of dollars and hours sunk into the embroidery! Want to buy it?”

Not only was the cost of the embroidery growing out of control, it began taking so many days. I literally drained my bank account to do the embroidery, and spent at least four days just going to the store search for and buying more embroidery floss. It was awful, and I actually just gave up, calling my mom and saying, the dress is a money pit and I’m done!

I left the dress as you see it in the image directly below…

The dress from center front.

The dress from center front before the embroidery was finished.

Years later, when Catey Lockhart signed on to be my apprentice, I saw a good opportunity to finish the dress. I added thick knitting ribbon on the apex of the bosom, a spot I had initially wanted to fill with more ribbonwork flowers. I also bought a brooch shaped like leaves to finish out the center. Catey added freshwater pearls all along the bottom of the dress, which, frankly, you’ll never see.

Front detail of the ribbon embroidered dress used for Vitellia.

Front detail of the ribbon embroidered dress used for Vitellia.

Looking at the dress now, I feel that it is clearly an early work — it was my third or fourth full scale gown — and all I see is embroidery that never quite got to the point I wanted it. Something that makes me feel better, however, is that my mother loves this dress. She loves the details and the colors, and because I could never resell it (money pit), I can gladly give it to her and allow her to enjoy it for the rest of her years!

A Sleeve detail (left) and back detail (right)

A Sleeve detail (left) and back detail (right)

The sad end to this story is that my embroidery days are over. I cannot physically do it because it makes my eyes hurt, and has caused my sight to go blurry and caused at least two trips to the eye doctor. While 3-D embroidery is cool looking, and has a great texture, this was my one foray into the technique. This was the final reason for using this anachronistic costume in the “La Clemenza di Tito” photo… I wanted this health-threatening, never-ending money-pit to have some sort of payoff!

Please subscribe to this blog, because, for those of you who follow me know, I will be producing a book featuring my images in 2015 and am eager to share all of the progress with you as it happens!

One Delightful Day – Final Photograph Taken

5 Jan

Sometimes life isn’t all that sentimental. Even though I’ve been taking photos which illustrate the operas of Mozart for just-shy-of a decade, the last photo shoot for the project did not make me feel too many emotions. In fact, I had planned to do this photo just around the time my father died, and I had to put it on hold to run my Father’s estate. After all that was finished, I sat down, looked through all my Mozart photos, made a list of what was needed to finish the project, where I could use old photos rather than taking new ones, and discovered that only one image was required to finish the photography part of the book. The feeling I got was “git ‘er done!” more than anything!

I wanted to Illustrate Act II of “La Clemenza di Tito”, which means “The Clemency of Titus”, an opera about a princess who plots to assassinate the emperor and the boy she’s hired to do her dirty work. For years I had been planning a cool Greco-Roman inspired dress for the Princess, Vitellia, but after my new project “A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters” cropped up, I decided to use the only dress that I made for Mozart Project but never got around to using.

My cousin Elizabeth came to portray Vitellia, and my friend Jake came to portray the would-be-assassin, Sesto.

Elizabeth and Jake prepare to model as Vitellia and Sesto for my final Mozart Photo.

Elizabeth and Jake prepare to model as Vitellia and Sesto for my final Mozart Photo.

Jake and Elizabeth have both appeared in Mozart Project in different photos over the years. Jake appears as Hyacinth in “Apollo et Hyacinthus”, and Elizabeth portrayed Susanna from “The Marriage of Figaro” around six years ago. Jake also portrayed Sesto for the other images taken to illustrate this opera all those years ago, and is actually reprising his role.

Jake and his magic mechanical cigarette.

Jake and his magic mechanical cigarette.

The final shot for this project was done outside, and is the only digital image in the entire book. All the rest of the images were taken with 35mm film. The reason I did this is because (as Chantell and Cortney are no doubt aware) my last film photo negatives took me over a year to get around to scanning, and frankly, the cost and time it takes to do film have taken their toll. After this photo, film will be reserved for very special occasions, and will not be my main medium.

Elizabeth's headdress kept drifting during the shoot.

Elizabeth’s headdress kept drifting during the shoot.

Now that all of my Mozart Project photos are taken, there are only around five images left to edit or composite! One is a very large undertaking – the Idomeneo royal family image requires SO much work — and the others will be finished shortly. I hope to finish and put together this project as a book sometime in 2015, and will certainly keep you all updated on what is going on there.

Here is a behind-the-scenes image of Jake around 6 years ago when he first portrayed Sesto.

Here is a behind-the-scenes image of Jake around 6 years ago when he first portrayed Sesto.

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