Dan Potra is responsible for the sets and costumes of the upcoming production of La Bohème, this year’s offering from Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (HOSH).
The challenges he faces are alarming.
“We can have four seasons in one day, as well as hurricane level winds or huge downpours. A couple of years ago, a particularly heavy rain washed out the entire paint finish on the set of the HOSH Turandot, but we managed to repaint it just in the nick of time.”
Potra says that all the costumes have to not only look scrumptious, but also be waterproofed to industrial grade. “We have to be very inventive with the kind of water-repellent synthetic fabrics to choose, and then to disguise them as velvets!”
Potra also has to work with the challenges of adjusting theatrical lights as the natural light fades at dusk.
He loves working on HOSH “not just because of the surrounding environment being so incredibly spectacular but also because the HOSH projects are such a democratic opera format, quite unlike the temple-like opera house facade. The experience here is more like a sporting or picnic event, welcoming, relaxed and family friendly”.
The set has two functions, according to Potra: “It has to function as an advertising tool during the day and as an artistic tool at night”.
In this year’s production, the opera is set during the violent 1968 Paris student riots (exactly 50 years ago), a crucial moment in recent French history that rocked the European continent but found its resonances here, too, on the other side of the world.
Yes, we Aussies certainly love La Bohème!
Mar 23-Apr 22. At Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquarie’s Point. $89-$348+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com
By Irina Dunn