Set Designer Pia Leong, Assistant Designer Oliver Burkhardt and Aleisa Jelbart.

Aleisa Jelbart – 2016 Rockend Berlin New Music opera Award Winner

In late October 2016, I set off on my three month trip to Berlin, supported by the Rockend Berlin New Music Opera Award.

During my stay I spent two months at the Komische Oper Berlin, as the Buehnenbild Hospitant (Set Design Assistant) on London based theatre company 1927’s Petrushka/L’Enfant et les Sortileges. In my free time I immersed myself in the city’s diverse cultural scene and attended a number of outstanding opera productions.

My main focus at the Komische was to observe a progressive, multidisciplinary approach to opera. 1927’s work integrates eclectic animated projections with live action and silent movie-style performance. As you can imagine I was able to learn a thing or two from them! In Petrushka, ballet dancers were replaced with circus performers to create ‘real life cartoon characters’ and in L’Enfant et les Sortileges, many of the singers performed from the orchestra pit while their characters flew around the stage as animations. The rehearsal room was always an exciting place to be and so helpful in understanding 1927’s collaborative process.

During the rehearsal period, a lot of my time was spent with Set Designer, Pia Leong, however there were many opportunities to assist the team in other areas of design. I accompanied Co-Director Esme Appleton in costume meetings and fittings, and spent a day assisting 1927’s animator Paul Barritt. His process involves bringing quirky 2D puppets to life using stop motion animation. Through Paul’s animations these puppets brought a lively, cinematic energy to the show and I found his process fascinating to observe.

My time with 1927 at the Komische Oper Berlin was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Every day was filled with a new set of challenges and they were always approached with enthusiasm and a good sense of humour. As a young designer, I found 1927’s humility, work ethic and collaborative prowess tremendously encouraging and influential.

I’d love to extend a huge thank you to The Opera Foundation for young Australians, Rockend Technologies and the DAAD for making this incredible opportunity possible. And finally to Alison Cole for her generous support and guidance over the past twelve months. Thank you!