Tag Archives: Mitridate

Mozart Reimagined Preorders Now Live on Kickstarter!

14 Sep

Hello friends! After ten years, Mozart Reimagined is now available for Pre-Order on Kickstarter!

You can watch some preview videos below, or just click on over to Kickstarter to learn more!

I hope you will all enjoy this labor of love!

If you feel passionately about my project, I would really appreciate it if you would share the Kickstarter link ( https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/948510266/mozart-reimagined-photography-book-by-tyson-vick )on your social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.!) You can use the hashtags #tysonvickphotography and #mozartreimagined if you like to tag your posts. It would help out immensely. Thank you all for your support over the years! I’m excited to finally be producing the book!

Mozart Reimagined – Mitridate

29 Jul

Mozart Reimagined by Tyson Vick will feature numerous photos illustrating Mozart’s “Mitridate”, which, along with “The Marriage of Figaro,” is one of my favorite Mozart operas. It’s one of the plays that I am most passionate about, know the most intimately and spend the most time with. Hopefully my love for the play is reflected in my photos and writing!

Mozart Reimagined features four photos by Tyson Vick illustrating the opera Mitridate

Mozart Reimagined features four photos by Tyson Vick illustrating the opera Mitridate

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 these images:

“Originally, the young Mozart began to write music for the lead actress, Antonia Bernasconi, before he met her. She was to come later with her own music, which she had performed in an earlier setting of the play, and then decide which music to use; would she use her own, or Mozart’s? Once she showed up, she was so delighted with the music Mozart wrote, that she asked him to scrap the outline he had already written for her and work together to sculpt Aspasia’s arias specifically to her own vocal capabilities. This, of course, is best reflected by Aspasia’s first aria (and opening number to the play) Al destin che la minaccia (From the fate that threatens it) which may be one of the finest, most thrilling da capo arias ever to open an opera seria.
Even the original Sifare, a castrato known as Sartorino, was so impressed with the music that he said, “If it does not please the audience, I will let myself be castrated all over again!”

Mitridate Act One by Tyson Vick.

Mitridate Act One by Tyson Vick.

The photos feature a wide range of models including Adrienne Priess from the History Channel’s Ax Men. Also featured is model Trevor Ivanich who can be seen in various campaigns and editorials nowadays, but who was just getting started when he worked with me nearly a decade ago on Mozart Reimagined!


I love to write about Mitridate, and you can read all about it. I’ve written about the historical figure Mithridates here, I’ve written about shooting the photos here and here, and my most popular entry on this blog details how I made armor out of craft foam for the photos here.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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!

From Concept to Completion for Tyson Vick’s Mozart Photography Project!

19 Jan

Well, I’ve Run Out of Costumes to show you. Over the past three months I have shared nearly every costume I created for my photographic illustrations of Mozart’s Operas. There are three or four pieces hiding in the closet somewhere that I’d like to dig out and photograph for you guys, but then I will have showed you everything!

While this project is getting ready to be compiled and put together in a book, I wanted to show you how it all began!

One day I was walking home from the library after looking for some Mozart Operas to get through the inter-library loan, and I thought, “Hmmm. Maybe I could illustrate my favorite parts of these operas through photography!”

When I got home I drew some sketches on my opera list, which you can see below!

The first thing ever put on paper for my Mozart Photography Project.

The first thing ever put on paper for my Mozart Photography Project.

And after ten years, that list turned into this:

Half of the finished photographs all put together in a collage.

Half of the finished photographs all put together in a collage.

In the image above you can see a little over half of all of the photos I took to illustrate the operas of Mozart! You’ll have to squint, but you can even make out that two of the initial sketches seen in the top sketch image were brought to life and can be seen in the final grid of photographs– lol, it’s a lot of work but on the top image, far right sketch row, second box down (guy blowing away in wind) is the design for row 1 column 5 in the photo set. In the sketch far right, bottom, image of lady with severed head can be seen in the photos row three column 3.

Isn’t that fun to see an idea come to fruition?

Be sure to subscribe to this blog, because now you will start getting all of the information on the books progress! You’ll get to see some of the final photos, and the beautiful costumes, hair and make-up — both Historical and Fantastical! There are also a few costumes left to share with you once I get them photographed! These are exciting times!


New Posts Every Monday!

27 Sep

After a long hiatus from this project due to my father’s death, and my continued work on my other fashion book project A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters, I will be coming back to this blog more consistently. I will be posting on One Delightful Day once a week from now until I run out of costumes.

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots, Act 1 by Tyson Vick

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots, Act 1 by Tyson Vick

Hopefully, I will be doing this for as long as it takes for my Mozart Photography book to come out! Because the photos and writing are in their final stages. I only have a few more things to add to the text before it gets sent off for a round of proof-reading and fact checking, and I have purchased a recording of Don Giovanni to help me get a better perspective (I’ve only ever seen and heard it, never read it.)

Don Giovanni Act Two, by Tyson Vick

Don Giovanni Act Two, by Tyson Vick

My father was very proud of my work on this project. It was his motto, “practice your craft”, and he enjoyed watching how I excelled by leaps and bounds by challenging myself in photography, costuming and business. It was my father who motivated me, helped me, and I must be completely honest, funded this project. I will finish it in his memory and I hope you will join me!

Mitridate Act One by Tyson Vick.

Mitridate Act One by Tyson Vick.

I would like to ask all of my readers to subscribe to this blog, as well. The posts will come straight to your inbox, and you will be able to see every costume and every updated from here on out! I have put the subscribe box at the top of the sidebar for ease.

Die Zauberflote, Act 2 by Tyson Vick

Die Zauberflote, Act 2 by Tyson Vick

I started this project Ten Years ago, and I can’t wait to bring the finished book to you guys!  Thanks for following along so far!

Mitridate – The Photos

1 May

So, here are my Mitridate photos, at last!

I just love Mitridate, and apparently I love writing about it on my blog! Some of my most popular posts are about Mitridate, including my Craft Foam Armor Tutorial, my History of the real Mithridates and his wives (which explains why my photo of the tyrant king has a female bodyguard!), and my article on Mozart’s Opera.  It is one of my favorite operas, and I listen to it all the time. The music is so fun!

Mitridate Act One by Tyson Vick.

Mitridate Act One by Tyson Vick.

The opera is about the evil King Mitridate who returns from war two find out his two sons have both fallen in love with their father’s new wife while he was away. I photographed this series over the course of many years, always waiting to find the perfect Mitridate. I finally did in Gus Gustuson, and you can read about the shoot in the above photo and how the models showed up to the shoot only for me to discover they were both old family friends!


Mitridate, Act II by Tyson Vick.

I have never mentioned the photo above in my blog, though, and I think it’s about time I did! I first worked with Jordynn as Aspasia at the beginning of my project, about seven years ago, when she was still a teenager. (Hers is the Title Image, which is not shown here, but is on my Facebook!) However, a few years down the line, I realized that I wanted the Act II photo to be romantic, so I asked her to return after approving a boy to kiss. I asked Roman to be the boy, and this was the first summer I met him and this was our third shoot together. We have gone on to shoot and get published in numerous magazines. The two models had to hold completely still, about an inch from each other, Jordynn in a sit-up position, for 20 minutes to get this shot. It was quite the feat of endurance!

The Hair and Make-up in these photos is by Lizzie Hatfield, and I did the body art in Act III.

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

Mitridate, Act III, by Tyson Vick.

These photos are unique in that the backgrounds were created by myself based on the set descriptions in the opera. I wrote five posts about making the photo of Farnace above with the broken tower, including every step from the design, to the photo shoot with Trevor Ivanich, to the photo editing. You can read each part of Illustrating an Opera here: Part 1 – The Design, Part 2 – The Photoshoot, Part 3 – The Composite Elements, Part 4 – Building the Miniatures, Part 5 – Photoshopping the Elements Together.

I hope you enjoy! Until next time!

The Historical Mitridate and his Family

13 Apr

The opera “Mitridate” by Mozart tells the story of the last days of Mithridates VI, tyrant king of a land known as Pontus. The spelling “Mitridate” is the Italian spelling of “Mithridates”, because the opera was written in Italian. The opera “Mitridate” is historical fiction. Many of the characters portrayed are real people, and many of the events happened in history in some form or other. The opera, like most biography dramas, changes a lot of facts for the sake of drama, but also includes many interesting things that happened in the life of this historical figure.

Mithridates VI Eupator Dionysius

Mithridates was essentially the Hitler of the ancient world. He was universally hated (outside of his Kingdoms) because of his genocidal tendencies and his strong military. He was an enemy of Rome throughout the course of many wars, opposing such famous military leaders as Pompey the Great and the great dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla, when Sulla was still only a general. Pontus (seen in the map below in purple) spanned a large part of Northern Turkey and the Southern shores of the Black Sea in the ancient world. Mitridate was king of Pontus from 120 b.c. to 63 b.c., which is a lengthy 57 year reign.


In the opera, Mitridate pretty much sentences every single character to death at some point. Notable is Mitridate’s penchant for poisoning people, which is something he did regularly in real life. He was also very concerned that somebody would try to poison him. Certain of an assassination plot, Mitridate gradually built up an immunity to poison throughout his life by taking sub-lethal doses and creating “Mithridatum“, or medicines he created himself, that have since been proven to help reduce swelling.

Mithridates is seen in this statue portrait dressed as Hercules, a god whose likeness Mithridates often used in propaganda.

The Wives of Mithridates

1. Laodice

Mithridate’s first wife was also his sister. Laodice is pretty much the epitome of a bad first marriage. After a short while the Queen began to take lovers while her husband was at war. She even had an illegitimate son, which surprised Mithridates when he returned home unexpectedly, because he had been gone longer than nine months! Soon thereafter, he walked in on her with her “lovers” (which I put in quotes because the plural form suggests many things to the imagination). As if that wasn’t enough, he also discovered she and her lovers were going to attempt to assassinate him with poison at his welcome home party. Needless to say, Laodice and her lovers did not survive the night. They were executed and Mithridates cursed his mother for bearing such a wicked daughter.

I guess the moral of the story is don’t marry your sister.

Laodice is the mother of the evil son Pharnaces II (Farnace), one of the main characters from Mozart’s opera.

This fascinating architecture, which I think is a bit later in history, is actually located in the Pontic landscape. Trabzon, Turkey, used to be a part of Pontus. Vazelon Manastiri, Macka, in Trabzon. Photo by Efkan Sinan.

2. Monime

Coming up second was the lady with the very Star Wars-y name, Monime. Mithridates was visiting some Greek allies, and saw the beautiful daughter of his friend. Monime and her father saw at once that Mithridates was enamored of her. They basically extorted the King for an enormous sum, and numerous titles, to buy her and take her home. Which Mithridates did. While Mithridates did like her intelligence, which is notable, as well as her beauty, she proved to be fairly cunning, and they grew estranged. She was executed during the Mithridatic wars. I’m assuming it was the Roman enemy that killed her, because after Mithridates defeat, they gave careful consideration to purging the Mithridatic line by killing all members of his family who might have an hereditary claim to the throne.

I guess the moral of the story is don’t marry any woman whose terms of marriage resort to extortion.

Monime is the basis for the character of Aspasia in the opera “Mitridate.” We know this because Mozart’s opera is actually a remake of a French play by Jean Racine. In the original all the characters names are the same except for Monime, which was changed to Aspasia in the Italian opera.

Mount Nemrud, a statue covered mountain which was fully functional (not in ruins) in the Ancient Turkey when Mithridates ruled the land.

3. Berenice

Mithridates married Berenice, and seems to have been much pleased with her, because though she started out as a mistress/concubine, she eventually became a wife. When the Romans had seized upon them, Mithridates commanded Berenice to kill herself with poison. However, the poison did not fully work, and so she had to be strangled.

I guess the moral of this story is don’t marry a psychopath.

In the opera, Mitridate’s young fiancee, Aspasia, is given a chance to kill herself with poison. While the appearance and personality of Aspasia seem to have been drawn from Monime, perhaps this scene was inspired by the final moments of Berenice’s life?

The Kaunos Rock Tombs existed in Ancient Turkey, and are an example of contemporary architecture during Mithridates reign. Photo by mxpeyne.

4. Stratonice

Strangely enough, the life of Stratonice seems to be the most operatic out of the bunch, even though her story was not used in the opera. Like the previous wife, Berenice, Mithridates seems to have liked Stratonice. She was the mother of Xiphares (Sifare) who is another of the leads in the Mozart Opera. However, things took a terrible turn during the Mithridatic Wars.

Stratonice was put in command of a mighty fortress which held much of the Pontic treasure. When Pompey the Great attacked and conquered the city, Stratonice yielded the fortress on the condition that Pompey let her son Xiphares live. When Mithridates discovered her betrayal, he had her punished by forcing her to watch the execution of Xiphares anyway, this time at the hands of her own people rather than the enemy. The boy was 20 years old. This event is loosely referenced throughout the opera.

A few short years later, Stratonice was executed during the purge of Mithridatic line by the Romans.

I guess the moral of the story is don’t do anything at all, ever, if you want to be sure of anything. Poor dear.

5. Anonymous

Wikipedia doesn’t have any information on this anonymous woman, however, I do know that when Mithridates was finally certain of his defeat, he had his wife and children take poison (Just like in Hitler’s bunker a thousand years later!) and perhaps this was the wife mentioned in that scenario.

I guess the moral of the story is, if you’re going to marry a tyrant, you might as well do something wild and crazy, or else you’ll go down in history as boring old “anonymous”.

The Celsus Library, a contemporary example of architecture in Mithridates time, Ancient Turkey.

6. Hypsicratea

Hypsicratea was an amazonian warrior woman! (Quite literally, as she was Caucasian, and Caucasus was the area where the Amazon women were said to have hailed from!) Mithridates married Hypsicratea because he felt that she was his intellectual equal. She did not want to leave his side, and so she trained in war craft, mastering the use of the axe, lance, sword and bow & arrow. With these skills, she equipped herself as a warrior and accompanied Mithridates everywhere he went as his bodyguard.

When Mithridates began to lose the wars, and the tides turned against him, Hypsicratea was one of the few who remained with him. Plutarch noted that she was indefatigable. Mithridates claimed that he was always at home because his wife was always by his side.

Hypsicratea, Warrior Queen of Pontus

Nobody knows what happened to Hypsicratea after Mithridates death. However, there is a very interesting theory. Because she became a warrior, her husband called her Hypsicrates, which is the masculine form of her name. There is a Pontic historian and old friend of Mithridates who wrote under the name Hypsicrates for many years after the kings death, until their own death as an elder. Some have speculated that this Hypsicrates was actually Hypsicratea, since there are many coincidences to connect them, such as being close to the King, being the correct age, having the same name, her noted intelligence etc.  It is assumed that she lived out the rest of her life in disguise to avoid the purge, and carry on her husband’s story.

Which would be totally awesome if true.

I guess the moral of this story is that if you’re going to be awesome, you might as well just pull out all of the stops and go for it!

Ancient Turkey. These ruins from the south would perhaps have been a part of Mithridates domain at one time, but not of Pontus proper. Photo by Willi Seiler.

The Most Important Son of Mithridates

Pharnaces II, the Evil Son

Just as in Mozart’s opera, Pharnaces (Farnace) did historically lead the Roman rebellion against his father. This is something that is downplayed in the opera to make the character more sympathetic, though he was the villain of the original French play by Jean Racine.

In the opera, Farnace feels torn between loyalties, and eventually turns against the Romans to help save his Kingdom. However, in real life, Farnace’s full on betrayal by siding with Rome was one of the major turning points in the defeat of Mithridates.

Surrounded on all sides by friend and foe, this is when the historical Mithridates had his family killed by poison and even attempted to poison himself when he realized he was doomed. However he failed.  Remember how I mentioned earlier that he had developed an immunity to poison? Yeah, well, he tried to poison himself, but it didn’t work due to his hard earned immunity to it. From here, the story splits. The first version is that he had himself stabbed, as in the opera. The second is that the rebels fell upon him and stabbed him to death. Either way, he was stabbed.

I guess the moral of the story is, if you want to commit suicide by poison, don’t spend all of your freaking life developing an immunity to poison.

After a few years of peace with Rome, the real Pharnaces decided to follow in his Father’s footsteps and oppose Rome. When the Romans sent Julius Caesar to battle, Pharnaces was quickly defeated and Caesar is famously quoted as saying “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

Final Words

Mitridate’s penchant for brutality and having people executed crosses over into Mozart’s opera, but his full cruelty is barely touched upon. It is said that he had every Roman in Asia executed, which is what fueled his seemingly unending battle with Rome. He was brutal towards most of his wives and children, adept on the battlefield and long lived. He was certainly much more of a tyrant than the opera would have us know.