I am interested in the notion of the ‘fallen woman’ as portrayed in 19th-Century art. It is intriguing that if we say a man falls, it is usually the result of an honourable death in war, but for a woman it is to do with her sexual promiscuity. To me, at the core of this opera is the idea of the fallen woman trying to atone for her ‘sins’.
Often in the art of the 19th Century the urban landscape is seen as the playground of the fallen woman (probably as prostitution was so rife then!) but the countryside as the sanctuary; the idea that nature can purify. I think this really struck a chord with me when listening and reading the libretto of this opera. I am exploring the idea of the landscape of the island taking on a feminine form. I want it to seem sinister though and not comforting, as Cardenio is after all tormented by his wife’s sexuality.
There is also the whole idea of the land as a political space, land organized for money; ‘the farms’. So I would like my design to address this issue in a stylised way.