October 14, 2016 - January 13, 2017
At 6 p.m. on Friday, 14 October, the Spazio Damiani (via dello Scalo 3/2 ABC, Bologna) will inaugurate Opera, the first one-man show in Italy of the American photographer David Leventi. Eleven large-format photographs depicting ten famous opera houses will be on display: La Fenice in Venice, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, the Palais Garnier in Paris, the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, the Kungliga Operan of Stockholm, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, the Teatro Municipale in Piacenza, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and, as an indispensable tribute to the city of Bologna, its Teatro Comunale.
The realization of the series from which the eleven works in the exhibition are drawn has taken David Leventi eight years: the entire project offers a journey through more than forty magnificent opera houses scattered over four continents. Each theatre has been chosen for a particular feature that makes it unique: the Metropolitan for its unequalled size, the San Carlo for its record of longevity, the Palais Garnier for its frescoed ceiling by the visionary Marc Chagall, and its use as the setting for the famous Phantom of the Opera, La Scala for having hosted Verdi, Rossini and Bellini, and the Mariinsky for having seen the presence of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Rimsky Korsakov.
David Leventi’s survey not only highlights the magnificence of the decorations and the solemnity of the architecture, but also explores the historical function of these places. The theme of great man-made spaces with a specific social function is a key aspect in the work of this photographer. Opera houses have played a leading role in the affirmation of national identity: they have simultaneously been a place in which the community might gather, a place of consecration of power, but also a place of protest.
However, we can also read these photographs from another (emotional) angle, that of the actors who tread the stages of these opera houses. All the images have been taken from the stage: from this perspective the eye travels over the stalls, the balconies on the sides and the gods, reversing the traditional relationship between the audience and the fourth wall. Thanks to this device, in Leventi’s photographs it is possible to sense the tension, the thrill and expectation felt by the performers before going on stage, when everything is just about to happen.
The complete series of 40+ theatres is presented in a volume entitled Opera, published by Damiani in 2015, and including an insightful foreword by Placido Domingo. The volume and a signed and numbered photograph by David Leventi make up the special limited edition of 15 copies plus three artist’s proofs. Both editions are available from the Spazio Damiani.
The exhibition is open until 13 January, 2017: from Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p-m., on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment (Tel. +39 051 4380747 Mob. +39 335 8458209).