Irina Brook Weill. Photo: Brescia & Amisano, Teatro alla Scala (detail) View full image

Irina Brook makes La Scala debut

Irina Brook made her debut last night at La Scala with the double bill of Brecht and Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins and Mahagonny-Songspiel, conducted by Riccardo Chailly – the first time the diptych has been performed there. She also designed the set, costumes and video, and translated the subtitles.

In an interview for La Scala she explained the topicality of the production and the creative concepts behind it:

'There could not be a more appropriate work to be doing right now at this point in history in an opera house as amazing as La Scala, because the music is fun, glorious and inspiring, and the story is as dark, depressing and frightening as our times, so the mixture of the two makes an extraordinary contrast. It's very brave of La Scala to show something that is really topical. For me the two pieces together make a story about the end of the world as we know it, and all the disasters we fear consciously or subconsciously. It's about ecological meltdown and people who are lost – maybe the last people on earth after things have gone wrong.

'It's a joyful experience to come to an opera as opulent and grand as La Scala to do the poorest of theatre, with no budget for costumes and no set. Everything is like playing, which is my favourite way of working in the theatre, but I never get to do in opera, because opera is such a big machine. I could never have imagined being allowed to play like a child with a play box of toys and costumes in La Scala. On one side you have this beautiful historic house and when you turn to the other side, the poorest bric-à-brac, second-hand theatre. This recycling is important. I feel it would be decadent at this time to do a piece with a lot of money about a world that is crumbling. That's why it's important to tell this tale and to tell it in such a contrasting setting as La Scala.'

The stream is available to watch for free on Raiplay until 25 March.

Brook was recently appointed Artist-in-Residence at Teatro Stabile Veneto.

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