Lyric Opera of Chicago believe that opera is a living, breathing art form, not just a museum curiosity. But today you can’t browse any music blog or arts news section without stumbling upon articles on the slow, inescapable death of opera citing sagging ticket sales, shorter seasons, aging funders, etc. In recent years, also the Lyric Opera, which until 2008 had always had sold-out seasons, has started to encounter problems in renewing its audiences and subsequently to struggle in order to keep its high-standard productions.
Personal taste aside, everybody agrees on the fact that Opera addresses the most primal human emotions. It attempts to shed light on love, hate, lust, despair, greed, fear, etc. These are universal feelings; therefore they are timeless. They don’t rely on the setting of an opera and they find themselves just as poignant and powerful today as in the 16th century. For this reason only, opera is still alive. We needed to highlight this “all too human” core of opera and we needed to do it in a different, more compelling, and contemporary way. We created content that told all facts and figures of Opera, and provided our prospect with a large set of tools to not be intimidated by their first experience and to better understand any aspect of the opera art form.
We partnered with world-renowned American Illustrator Mark Summers – he contributed work for Rolling Stone, Newsweek, The New Yorker, and Sports Illustrated, among others - to create smart, thought provoking visual solutions. We used symbols and metaphors from the Opera imagery and re-interpreted them with a twist and in a contemporary style to create visual intrigue, tension and juxtaposition. The illustrator worked using traditional scratchboard. Sketches were transferred to the board where he used a real knife to engrave white lines into the black surface. Each drawing took approximately 20 hours to produce and no computer or digital program was used.