Opera Erminia Fuggitiva / The Enchanted Forest

Baroque Opera & Ballet
« Erminia Fuggitiva », Scarlatti, 1723
« The Enchanted Forest », Geminiani, 1756
Opera Lafayette, Washington, DC, and NYC, NY, USA – January 2018

Stage director : Richard Gammon
Musical director : Ryan Brown
Costume designer : Meriem Bahri
Set designer : Richard Ouellette
Light designer : Rob Siler
Photographer : Louis Forget

WHAT IS YOUR NAME AND ROLE?

Meriem Bahri, costume designer.

TALK ABOUT YOUR ROLE IN THE PRODUCTION A BIT – WHAT DO YOU DO? WHAT INSPIRED THE CHOICES YOU’RE MAKING? WHAT IS THE IDEA BEHIND YOUR WORK?

I’m designing the costumes of Scarlatti’s “Erminia Fuggitiva” directed by Richard Gammon, and Geminiani’s “The Enchanted Forest” choreographed by Anuradha Nehru. Both are inspired by Tasso’s poem “Gerusalemme Liberata”. Although the original pieces are talking about the first crusade, we transferred the action to India, with the Munghals being the Christian crusaders and the Marathas being the Muslims.
A part of the costumes are new, while the other is borrowed to Kalanidhi Dance with whom Opera Lafayette is collaborating again. My work is to make new and old pieces functioning together like they were all conceived at the same time, creating a new visual that serves as a tool to understand the story and as a link between the ballet and the opera.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THIS MUSIC, OR BAROQUE MUSIC IN GENERAL? WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS PRODUCTION?

I can’t explain why exactly I like baroque music but I felt in love with it several years ago when I started designing my first baroque opera. I definitely have a sweet tooth for harpsichord, tambourine and dance arias. The person who drew me to this production is actually a harpsichordist and dear friend, Jory Vinikour, who put me in touch with Ryan Brown, Opera Lafayette’s conductor and director.

IF YOU’VE WORKED WITH OPERA LAFAYETTE BEFORE, WHY ARE YOU EXCITED TO BE BACK? IF YOU HAVEN’T, WHAT DREW YOU TO OPERA LAFAYETTE?

It’s the first time I’m working with Opera Lafayette but I’ve been following the company for a few years since I’ve discovered that some friends where singing with them. I’m very excited to work with a new artistic team and to see how the dancers of Kalanidhi will adopt the particularity of baroque music in their movements.

WHAT MAKES THIS SHOW A GOOD EXPERIENCE FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER SEEN AN OPERA PERFORMANCE BEFORE?

They will actually see two types of art form: an opera, and a ballet, exploring the same subject, visually linked by the sets and costumes, and both carried by beautiful baroque music.

SHARE A FUN FACT ABOUT YOURSELF!

I got my first job as a costume designer by going to a knitting club to learn how to knit and to practice speaking English (I’ve just arrived in the USA). I was sitting near a soprano who happened to have a friend who was about to start an opera company. More than six years later, I’m still happily working with them but I’m not knitting anymore!