Parlando: The COC Blog

4/26/2012

Buoso Donati's Hoard

 

One of the most distinctive features of the set of our upcoming production of Gianni Schicchi (presented in a double bill with A Florentine Tragedy) has come to be known as "the hoard" – a large heap of detritus representing the accumulated possessions of the wealthy, deceased Buoso Donati. Director Catherine Malfitano envisioned Donati as something of a hoarder, and in dealing with the larger themes of greed and acquisitiveness that permeate Gianni Schicchi, meant the hoard to represent “the things that stay behind when we are gone” (This Toronto Star interview with Catherine Malfitano has more on this theme).

Although it's meant to look almost careless, like the junk pile that accumulates in the hidden corners of many houses, quite a lot of time and thought went into its construction over the last several months. Since the artists clamber up and down the hoard at several points during the opera and often sing atop it, it needed to be sturdy, stable, and climbable. From the Toronto Star article:

Using items sourced from the props room, Craigslist, eBay and even staffers’ homes (one person donated their old TV rabbit ears), the hoard took shape in the scene shop at Christie and Dupont. It was then moved by truck to Front Street and finally to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, where it jostles for space with the bar scene from The Tales of Hoffman and the Art Deco living room from A Florentine Tragedy.

Head carpenter David Retzleff said the hoard had to be strong enough for the singers to climb up and stand on while still being able to be broken into four pieces to make the truck ride to the theatre. Retzleff, Chin and Malfitano have all climbed its ladders, stairs and boxes that the singers will be using during the performance.

Because the 13-foot-high, 20-feet-wide edifice is so big and unwieldy, Retzleff had a special rolling platform built to move the hoard into the wings.

Here's a photo of the hoard in mid-construction a few months ago at our Christie/Dupont scene shop. The pointing arms belong to set designer Wilson Chin and director Catherine Malfitano.

 

Here are some photos of the finished hoard from earlier this month. You can see some of the assorted interesting items in some of its corners:

Top photo: A scene from the Canadian Opera Company production of Gianni Schicchi, 2012. Photo by Michael Cooper.

All other photos © Canadian Opera Company, 2012.

 

Posted by Cecily Carver / in 2011/2012 / comments (0) / permalink


Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001