English National Opera/Opera North/Tel Aviv, 1996/1997
Directed by Matthew Warchus
Lighting by Peter Mumford
English winter met Italian Palladian architecture in this snowy production. The history of perspective informed a design which connected the early renaissance experiments of Uccello and high renaissance theatre machinery, via the paintings Vermeer.
All these were given a modern twist. Mistress Ford’s seduction scene is set up in perfect false-perspective, only to be disrupted by her jealous husband into a crazy, out-of-kilter environment.
The street scene with the Garter Inn recalled a classic 18th century theatre setting, and used authentic scenic machinery. But these periaktoi were lined with mirrors and trees and set on eccentric pivots, so that the symmetrical ordered architecture appeared to melt into the wild nocturnal forest.
“Sets by Laura Hopkins – Fra Angelico out of Piero Della Francesca as if lit by Vermeer – wielding potent charm. A production so good you hardly notice there is a production at all.”
“…an extremely elegant idea, it works beautifully and achieves a magical Act 3 transformation from the street by the garter inn to the midnight depths of Windsor Forest.”
“The production’s biggest advantage undoubtedly lies in Laura Hopkins’s original and often magical stage designs.”
“The street scene outside the Garter Inn – arguably the finest of Hopkins’s beautiful, indeed almost beatific settings – was a visual classic.”