Hudson, Richard (6 of 7)  An Oral History of Theatre Design

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  • Recording date

    2006-12-15, 2007-07-25, 2008-04-04

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's studio, London

  • Interviewees

    Hudson, Richard 1954- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Wright, Elizabeth (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 6: First Handel opera designed by RH, ‘Tamerlano’ for the Maggio Musicale in Florence, directed by GV with lighting by Matthew Richardson; recitative in Handel operas; description of the set and costumes, which were an amalgamation of eighteenth century styles and Eastern influences; mention of re-visiting the design recently; feelings about seeing the production again; mention that Covent Garden will stage the production in 2010. Making new costumes for cast changes; mention that the costumes were originally made in Milan and the same company was able to make the new ones; finding similar fabrics; shopping at an Indian textiles shop in Vienna. Designing ‘Idomeneo’ in Florence after ‘Tamerlano’; revivals of shows designed by RH in Paris, including ‘Khovanshchina’ and ‘Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg’. Opera houses in Florence; La Pergola and its facilities; opportunity to build a set and then perfect it; old-fashioned approach to scenery building in Italy. ‘Teatro Comunale’, also in Florence; description of this theatre and its facilities. [0:07:46] [Plane in background]. Encouraging costume makers to use different techniques in Italy. [0:08:54] Local knowledge of the cities where RH works; mention that GV speaks several languages, as does Francesca Zambello; communicating in English and French. Shopping online for fabrics; working in Brussels and ordering fabrics from Germany, France, England and Austria; shopping in Athens, where there are still lots of fabric shops; mother’s clothes that were made by a dressmaker. [0:12:10] Success of ‘Tamerlano’ and feeling that the whole production worked well together; mention of English conductor, Ivor Bolton; response to the production. Productions in Paris around this time including ‘Khovanshchina’ and ‘Les vepres siciliennes’; feelings about these productions; availability of the director; the need for preparation time and dialogue with directors. ‘Benvenuto Cellini’ directed by DP; costumes for this production. Working on several shows concurrently; travelling; assigning an assistant to each production if necessary; the need to be organised; long preparation time for opera. Taking time off; going to see theatre and opera; seeing dress rehearsals. Knowing other theatre designers; Society of British theatre Designers exhibitions. [0:23:08] Openings of LK in New York in 1997, Tokyo in 1998 and London in 1999; openings in other countries; touring productions in America and Europe; Associate Designer, Peter Eastman, who deals with re-staging the production; mention of re-designing Pride Rock for a future tour. Invitation to design LK at suggestion of Julie Taymor [JT]; initial thoughts about the production; first trip to America to meet Disney and JT. Working on the design in New York with ten assistants; keeping them busy; pressure of working on LK; presenting early ideas to Michael Eisner, Chief Executive Officer of Disney. Description of “bid session” with construction companies; “try out” of LK in Minneapolis; opening at New Amsterdam Theatre, Broadway. Time working in New York. [0:36:01] Work at Young Vic with DL; mention of designing his plays ‘Desire’ at The Almeida and ‘Ends of the Earth’ at the Cottesloe; ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore’ and ‘Dr Faustus’ at the New Vic with Jude Law and ‘The Skin of Our Teeth; production of ‘As You Like It’ in the West End. Feelings about Young Vic space; adaptable space here and at The Gate. Designing small scale shows in 2004 and 2005 at the same time as designing The Ring Cycle [RiC] with Phyllida Lloyd [PL] at English National Opera [ENO]; working on this show with PL; this period at ENO; reasons why four pieces were never staged together as a cycle; feelings about this; expense of staging RiC; mention that RiC was produced during Paul Daniels’ tenure as Music Director. [0:43:46] Feelings about beginning work on RiC; staying in a cottage in Cornwall to work on RiC; storyboards by PL. Mention of invitation to design RiC earlier in career; Richard Jones’ RiC at ROH; Scottish Opera and Robert Wilson version; seeing other productions or watching a DVD; listening to Shakespeare audio books. Use of modern dress for RiC; importance of hearing the words; small scale of the production; critical response. Approach to using modern costume for RiC; costume for the Nibbelungs and the Valkyries; soloists costumes; Wotan’s costume; Erda’s position in the audience. [0:54:13] Work on with PL and Kim Brandstrup [KS] on Debussy triple bill at Bregenz, an unfinished opera based on ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ and the ballets ‘Jeux’ and ‘l’apres-midi d’un faune’; feelings about working on dance again. Subsequent work with KS including ‘The Seven deadly Sins’ in Athens and ‘Rushes’ for the Royal Ballet. Opera work overseas; costumes for ‘Death in Venice at Aldeburgh; being asked to work overseas rather than in Britain; fickle nature of theatre. Writing a letter to Monica Mason about working at ROH; reasons for enjoying design for dance; set design for dance; revolve at Bregenz. [Telephone].

  • Description

    Life story interview with Richard Hudson (1954-), theatre designer.

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