The Opera Project- Preamble

While teaching a woodworking class at Penland School of  Crafts in NC, I met Jen Townsend, a silversmith who was also teaching that same session in the metals studio. Jen had begun work on a neck-piece depicting the central female character from a favorite opera . I had seen this art work develop from a block of green wax to an incredibly detailed, beautiful figure just 3 inches tall, in silver. View a video depicting the stages of its creation here.  Jen initially approached me to consider making a display for this piece as if on a stage setting. We talked briefly then, but a few months later, she really told me of her vision.

The project involved seven neck-pieces from seven operas, each set within a triptych ..to scale… to match the dimensions of the NY Metropolitan Opera stage. Jen also brought in the mixed- media and paper artist Sheena Graham-George, with whom she had collaborated before, to paint the interior stage set.

So, Jen in NY State, Sheena in Orkney Isles, Scotland, UK and I, in Atlanta, GA, began the exchange of ideas, the details and logistics of this exciting project. A fabulous vision that will probably keep us busy, on and off between our other art work, for a couple of years at least. More later on Jens future plans for these seven sculptures…..

For now, we are on a roll….

Jen has completed two neck- pieces, the figures of the Queen of the Night from the opera The Magic Flute, and that of the Princess Turandot from the opera Turandot. The third character, Isolde, from Tristan and Isolde, is very close to being cast in silver.

In my studio, with the sounds of those operas in my ears, the two stages are complete.  Sheena has completed the Queen of the Night panels and is beginning Turandot.

The three of us are feeling  quite pleased with ourselves and can’t wait to see the work so far, together, at the same location.

About the Triptych Stages

I basically decided to make them all in component forms to allow for positioning of the jewelery and the painted scenery at various times of completion.

The four main pieces consist of the main stage, the base, the roof and the doors with piano hinges.

The design considerations are the operas’ locations, scenes and moods  which the  three of us discuss and agree to reflect, in these sculptures. Each  triptych represents a new challenge with different design elements.

Material: various veneers on plywood, hardwood details, painted poplar, gold-leaf, LED flex tape lights, piano hinges
Dimensions (h x w x d): each approx. 45″ x 46″ x 8″
Year Made: 2012 through 2015


Contact: phone: 404-292-4757
email: sabiha@chrysaliswoodworks.com

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