The Crystal Cabinet

In The Crystal Cabinet, the poet, graphic artist and inventor William Blake has been transferred to a time close to our own. The frame story scenes take place in the physical world, while the in-between passages stage visits to Blake’s illuminated poems. The libretto, developed in various kinds of collaboration between the composer, the director and the choreographer, shifts between two different kinds of scenes: a fictional frame story about William Blake and ambiguous visits to his illuminated poems. While the frame story scenes are composed and staged in a relatively traditional way, the in-between passages use the connection of choreography and interactional staging techniques to transform the characters to become ambiguous creatures influenced by the ones found in Blake’s images and poems.

To create his books of compound text and image, Blake invented a printing-machine with which he could print his handwritten texts and pictures. After printing, he coloured the pages by hand. We transformed this idea into an interactive area where the connections among bodies, technology, voices and words work in several directions. To explore the singular corporeal experiences found in his metaphorical poems and images, the performers in those passages leave their frame story characters to become human-machine subjects transformed, deconstructed and elaborated by the rhythms and dynamics of a virtual voice reading Blake’s texts.

Throughout the performance computer-animated versions of his images and words move across the stage, and in the vision scenes the acoustic of the room is transformed via microphones connected to a computer. The title of the opera is borrowed from one of Blake’s poems, and the concept ‘the crystal cabinet’ also became our name for the shining globe that the performers pass through, in order to reach the interactive area.


Link to research article:


IDEA AND MUSIC:
Carl Unander-Scharin
IDEA AND CHOREOGRAPHY:

Åsa Unander-Scharin


LIBRETTO
Carl Unander-Scharin, Åsa Unander-Scharin, Keith Turnbull


STAGE DIRECTION
Keith Turnbull


INTERACTIVE TECHNOLOGY:
Åsa and Carl Unander-Scharin


CONDUCTOR:
Mats Rondin


ORCHESTRA:
Norrbotten NEO


STAGE DESIGN AND VIDEO:
Lene Juhl & Mark Viktov


PERFORMERS:
Kristina Hansson Unander, Johan Christensson, John Erik Eleby, Jan Vesala, Claudine Ulrich


COMMISSIONED AND PRODUCED BY:
Piteå Chamber Opera


STAGE DESIGN AND VIDEO:
Lene Juhl & Mark Viktov


DURATA:
90 minutes


PERFORMANCES:
Studio Acusticum, Piteå
Saga Teatern, Boden
NorrlandsOperan, Umeå
Teatern, Härnösand
Storsjöteatern, Östersund


PHOTOS:
Staffan Nygren


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