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"Staging the Orient: Visions of the East at La Scala and The Metropolitan Opera"
2004-03-02 until 2004-05-30
Dahesh Museum of Art
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Every exhibition organized by the Museum sets out to explore, often for the first time, some important feature of academic art and the institutions that nourished it in 19th- and early 20th-century Europe. Utilizing loans from distinguished international collections, both private and public, previous exhibitions here have examined the training of artists; the world of the Salon with its competitions and juries; the 19th-century fascination with the Orient, reciprocated from Cairo to Paris; the influence of photography, travel and archeological discoveries of the classical past; and the reproduction of artworks for an international market. Current Exhibitions Upcoming Exhibitions Current Exhibitions Staging the Orient: Visions of the East at La Scala and The Metropolitan Opera March 2 - May 30, 2004 Staging the Orient: Visions of the East at La Scala and The Metropolitan Opera, an unprecedented international project that opens new territory for the Dahesh Museum of Art, makes its only North American appearance here from March 2 to May 30, 2004. This is the first exhibition in the Museum’s history to explore the fertile frontier between the visual and the performing arts that opera represents, and the first to honor the artists who created opera’s onstage world of the Orient.

Since La Scala’s opening in 1778, the world-renowned opera house in Milan has set the standard for extraordinary theatrical productions and played a crucial role in the history of costume and set design. Staging the Orient concentrates on operas set in Western Europe’s conception of the Orient as broadly defined on La Scala’s stage to include Russia, Egypt, the Near East, India, and the Far East. The exhibition, drawn primarily from La Scala’s incomparable archival collections and supplemented with seldom seen loans from The Metropolitan Opera Archive and Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, connects La Scala’s fabled past to the remarkable history of opera in New York from the late 19th century to the present day.

Staging the Orient illuminates how Italy’s most famous set designers (and their American counterparts a century later) created an imaginary East onstage. With the stories, set designs, costume sketches, historic photos, and extravagant costumes from the world’s two greatest opera houses, Staging the Orient demonstrates opera’s enduring fondness for the exotic in the late 18th through the early 20th centuries.

The exhibition features 200 works on paper (including watercolor sketches, lithographs, photographs, and other memorabilia), and architectural models. Its wealth of materials brings into vivid relief the history of opera’s affaire de coeur with the Orient: how it evolved, from the opening of La Scala to the opening of the Metropolitan Opera in 1883, from the classicism of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (1791) to the romanticism of Verdi’s Aïda (1874); the transition to modernism is highlighted by the exhibition’s focus on Puccini’s Turandot (1926), the last grand Italian opera to enter the international repertory. Twenty costumes created for the great Turandot singers, including Rosa Raisa, Maria Jeritza, Birgit Nilsson, and Franco Corelli, bring a dazzling dimension to the exhibition.

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