Clavigo Ballet – Roland Petit
Opéra national de Paris
Set design: JEAN-MICHEL WILMOTTE
Choreographer: ROLAND PETIT
Composer: GABRIEL YARED
Lighting: MARION HEWLETT
Costumes: LUISA SPINATELLI
Dancers: Nicolas Le Riche (Clavigo) / Clairemarie Osta (Marie Beaumarchais) / Yann Bridard (Carlos), Yann Saïz, Marie-Agnès Gilot (l'étrangère). Paris Opera Ballet.
Set design for the Clavigo Ballet at the Opéra Garnier in Paris, choreographed by Roland Petit.
With his innate gift for characterization, his sense of suspense, and his talent for the picturesque and the unexpected detail, Roland Petit (1924–2011) was one of the greatest storytellers in the history of 20th-century ballet. In 1999, he asked Jean-Michel Wilmotte to design sets for a new ballet, Clavigo, with music by Gabriel Yared that premiered at the Paris Opera. This was the first time Wilmotte confronted this type of exercise, although he had always been fascinated by stage design.
For Clavigo, Wilmotte imagined four pure, minimalist tableaux: taut, orthogonal lines, sober colours – black, white and grey – to better highlight the dancers, and provide a counterpoint to the particularly refined neoclassical costumes designed by Luisa Spinatelli. Wilmotte’s geometric rigour is evident in the composition of the tableaux. In Un Bal the great white portico, whose vertical scansion echoes the movements of the dancers, provides a box for the dance. In the set for La salle de jeux, Wilmotte plays with a ‘screen’ that slowly descends onto the stage, obscuring the action. The horizontal weave of the screen creates a pattern over the long rifts of light. Tragically, the ballet ends in an Italian-style fresco, with each tile forming a labyrinth. Clairemarie Osta, Nicolas Le Riche and Yan Bridard perform in front of an inverted black and white motif, like a photographic negative.
I was passionate about theatre design. When you see at Les Amandiers, in Nanterre, that all you have to do is play with the light and make the sound of a little water to create the impression of a world, well there you have it, what it means to work on space,