Alex Da Corte
In Manual for Constructing Theatrical Scenes and Machines (1638), the Italian Baroque architect and designer Nicola Sabbatini drew plans for inventions that made theaters appear to flood with water, rattle with thunder, smoke with fog, and burn with hellfire. These theaters were not churches, but they shared a sacred ability to make magic for the masses. The historian John Peacock refers to the proscenium in theaters as the limit between the invisible and the visible, and I have long been interested in this limit—a space with a threshold, a binary, a “keeping up with the Joneses” façade covering an ugly interior. Using methodologies invented by Sabbatini, along with the architectural scenographic techniques of Sebastiano Serlio, I will create short satires and studio props that demystify such binaries and stretch the “limits” inherent in some of Italy’s illusionistic architecture—Andrea Pozzo’s clouds in Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola, or Vincenzo Scamozzi’s trompe l’oeil sets in Teatro Olimpico. This work will inform an opera, performed in stop-motion animation, premiering in summer 2024.