Designer Agnes Hasun created a playground for adults

Flouncy dresses and stylish costumes jump, run, crawl and hide in, through and amidst an immense, white kitchen in La scala di seta / Il signor Bruschino. This playground for adults sprung from the creative mind of set and costume designer Agnes Hasun. She tells all about it…

Where did you get your inspiration for these designs?

‘Usually the inspiration for my designs comes from the play and the music itself. These operas by Rossini have this Italian flare of their own. So director Marcos and I delved into the Italian world. Marcos had the idea of cooking live ín the set. So I had to combine the functionalities of a real kitchen with the aesthetics appropriate to these Italian operas as we envisioned them. In doing so, we wanted to start from the idea of a blank canvas – hence the all-white kitchen – in which the music, the characters and the colours eventually conquer the space. I found that very inspiring.’

How does such a design process start?

‘It starts with conversations with the creative team and a lot of listening to the music. I scribble all kinds of ideas on a piece of paper and then start sketching. The next step is very important for me: making a scale model, so that my 2D drawings turn into a 3D model and I can start playing with it.’

Did you immerse yourself completely in the Italian cuisine and ‘lifestyle’ for these designs?

‘Well the funny thing was that we were remodeling our own kitchen when I made these designs. So my husband regularly looked over my shoulder while I was designing this decor and then said: I want that in ours too! And that too! But unfortunately, we don’t have that much space or money to make this. So my husband is now a bit jealous of this beautiful kitchen…. And yes, we did try some Italian dishes, deciding which ones we wanted to cook on this stage. But cooking the whole menu together with Marcos and eating it, that unfortunately hasn’t worked out yet…Hopefully we’ll make it happen before the premiere!’

Does the rehearsal period, when the set and costumes are brought to life by the singers, require any adjustments to the design?

‘Yes, that’s kind of part of the process. You have to think ahead, of course, but also be flexible. Sometimes things work slightly differently in practice. And apart from that, especially for the costumes, it also depends on the singers who have to wear the clothes; how do they feel in it, how do they move in it and what do they need to become their character?’

There are a lot of jokes and humorous situations in these operas, to what extent does your set enable that humour?

‘I have created a playground for adults. This is my first comedy, but I have previously created sets for a number of children’s operas and many of those sets included hiding places, stairs, ladders, things to crawl on or under. That works very well, even for adult operas. So this set does indeed help the singers to make the humorous situations, which are sometimes even a bit slapstick, possible. It is a pleasure to make and I hope also to watch!’

Interview: Kyra Bertram