der Auszug

Category: design

orpheus at the bode museum

The other night we were really glad we’d decided to go check out a production of Haydn’s Orpheus at the Bode Museum here in Berlin.

First we were given a really good tour of particular works related to love and death in this REALLY lovely museum, which was recently renovated. Each room represents a distinct period or area, and there are plenty of works that you look at and think “oh hey that looks exactly like that famous– oh wait” Then you back up nervously and hope your garlic breath didn’t just peel another century off the varnish.

The production takes place on a long kind of raised runway installed in a gallery of the museum. At one end is the orchestra, which played gorgeously (they were one of the stars of the evening for sure), and at the other end was the entrance where the dancers and singers came and went. There was a little tree towards the end of the runway by the orchestra, which housed a bird that actually flew. They used some really good effects, lighting, etc.

The whole effect was really charming, and I really liked the choices they’d made– costumes were simple, flowing shades of white, hair was great, choreography was really cool, and the dancers were excellent. (I didn’t understand at all why the nymphs/dancers didn’t get a huge applause at the end! They really deserved it.)

The singers were all really dedicated and each had their own special something. All very pretty voices, which were chosen, I guessed, particularly because of how they resonated within that beautiful little gallery space. (Of course my friend the baritone sounded great as always.) The orchestra played absolutely beautifully, really really really well, just wonderfully, and the conductor was excellent at keeping the whole show together. I mean, let’s hope so. Right? But he did a fantastic job despite the very tricky set up – because of the limitations of the space, he had to face either the orchestra OR the dancers and singers – so it was truly impressive.

The biggest star of the evening, however, was definitely the dancer playing Death. Wow. Amazing dancer, absolutely stole every scene he was in. And he’s not hard to watch if you know what I mean. Above is a screen shot from the production’s own website.

Unfortunately, the show is now over, so you won’t be able to see it if you’re in Berlin. I’ve no idea whether they’ll add more performances, but it seems to have been hugely popular — tickets were tough to get because everything was sold out — so maybe you’ll be in luck. Tickets are pricey but I definitely recommend checking it out.


new toy with which to increase my insufferability (a work in progress)

I don’t know what on earth I did on study breaks before the iPhone.

Sat drooling and staring blankly at the floor, most likely.


The other night I happened to attend a very interesting discussion about design trends. Then I had some quite decent pizza at 12 Apostles. I ordered the “Simon.” But that’s not relevant to this discussion.

The panel of three esteemed design professionals was comprised of a North American design journalist (I think he was Canadian but I didn’t see his bio), a Spanish artist/designer and a German trend researcher.

I think there are quite a few things that the opera and design industries share in common, particularly in the way both are perceived by the majority of consumers (apathetically), and how they are promoted by insiders (for the old-schoolers, excruciatingly exclusively; for the new fans, blithely populist).

But unlike opera, design exists specifically to solve problems. Yet as the designer on the panel stated with something between a laugh and a choke, “There are no problems [to solve].” I suppose that for the last few generations of design, that’s true. We now officially have all the beautifully designed butter dishes we will ever need, in any shape or material, for ever and ever, amen. But is that really all they see left to design? Is there really so little to do that we need an entire institute to assign Jungian archetypes to people designing our whimsical living room conversation pieces?

I’m fascinated by how, exactly, people address (or don’t) a perceived lack of need for what they do, make, report, and research, especially when they themselves contribute to the irrelevance of their work, perceived or real, in an age of such unprecedented change, newness, problem and opportunity. It’s interesting to see how people or businesses deal with change: denial, exuberance, curiosity, anger…

But I’m admittedly inclined to indulgence with opera which, if it has trouble finding a relevant way into people’s hearts and pocketbooks, is because they’ve been too busy making opera. But they learn, and histrionics and theater naturally gravitate to sponsors anyway. Eventually. I mean opera feeds the soul but there are supposedly better tools out there for planning future industry, urban areas, consumer goods, houses, reading materials, green energy, transportation, carriers of information, education and medical equipment!

If an entire industry that exists to solve problems of accessibility– an entire discipline over several industries that are still very much in demand and actively NEED design– if they can’t find a way to be relevant, or drum up the intellectual curiosity to solve the problems of the world falling apart and being reborn around them every day, then they absolutely deserve to be drowned by the flood of social media, reality programming, and “everybody-is-a-star”ism that so confounds, irritates and threatens them.