• Es Devlin: The Mastermind Behind DON GIOVANNI's "Mind-Bending" Sets

    By COC Staff

    Internationally renowned artist and stage designer Es Devlin is one of the most inventive multi-platform creators working today, with three Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, and the London Design Medal among her many accolades. This winter, you can experience her stunning work in our production of Don Giovanni—an unmissable chance to witness this “mind-bending” (The New York Times),“ kaleidoscopic” (The Independent) take on Mozart’s perfect opera.


    Born in southwest London, England, Devlin majored in English Literature at Bristol University and in Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins. Early projects designing for London’s Bush Theatre and the National Theatre garnered attention for her original use of space, lighting, and projection, leading to commissions for major pop artists including Adele, U2, and The Weeknd, as well as for such landmark events as the 2012 London Olympics closing ceremony, the 2016 Rio Olympics opening ceremony, and the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show.

    Whether designing for the stage or for major musical and sporting events, Devlin’s sets transcend mere “background” scenery by fundamentally redefining the storytelling experience for each production.

    Her theatrical collaborations have included work on The Lehman Trilogy (National Theatre, London, 2018), The Nether (Royal Court, 2015), and Chimerica (Almeida, 2013)—each of which featured a cube-shaped set (a rotating glass and steel box operating as a mid-century office in The Lehman Trilogy, a mirrored box creating infinite reflections in The Nether, and a projection-drenched cube in Chimerica).

    For Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican (2015), Devlin summoned a massive pile of rubble pouring through the doors of a decaying stately home; in Girls and Boys, starring Carey Mulligan at the Royal Court (2018), the entire contents of a small apartment were painted monochrome blue to reflect a mother’s struggle to rewrite her memories after the loss of her children.

    Nor is Devlin a newcomer to designing for the operatic stage. Les Troyens (2012) at the Royal Opera House used projections and a multi-layered city skyline to play with constantly shifting perspectives of the besieged Trojans. In the same year, Parsifal at Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Opera created an immense mirrored tunnel out of a hollowed-out overturned chess piece.

    More recently, Devlin’s design for the Bregenz Festival’s production of Carmen (2017), helmed by Don Giovanni director Kasper Holten, created a stage out of a tumbling pile of enormous playing cards, framed by a giant pair of hands rising out of the waters of Lake Constance.

    Beyond the world’s great theatres and opera houses, Devlin has created globally renowned stadium stage sculptures in collaboration with international pop sensations that include Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. From this year’s state of the art, video-powered set for U2’s Las Vegas residency at the inauguration of the brand-new Sphere, to a 60-foot rotating LED box dubbed “the Monolith” for Beyoncé’s Formation world tour, Devlin’s talent at managing extreme changes in scale as well as dazzling light and projection effects is matched only by her ability to keep the performers front and centre—creating an audience experience that is at once vast and surprisingly intimate.

    Her groundbreaking vision for Mozart’s Don Giovanni features a labyrinthine rotating set of doors and staircases. The Escher-like design, in combination with massive animated projections, possess the ambition and scale to match Mozart’s bold masterwork. 

    In Don Giovanni, concealment in confined and secret spaces is a recurring theme, as characters disguise themselves and their intentions. The challenge of staging these places of intrigue and deception is one that Devlin meets with a kinetic maze structure that is itself constantly shifting. The space of the opera itself becomes an extension of the characters’ psychological states, made visible with light, projections, and shifts in scale.

    We can’t wait to welcome COC audiences to experience Es Devlin’s stunning creative vision in our upcoming production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni

    Buy your tickets now!


    Posted in 23/24 Season


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