During 2005, William Kentridge was responsible for the sets and the direction of TheMagic Fluteby Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for the opening of the new season of Brussels La Monnaie/De Munt Opera House, as part of an initiative promoted by the same theatre with Foundation of the San Carlo Opera House in Naples, the Lille Opera House and the Theatre of Caen.
The project to be shown at the Lia Rumma Gallery in Naples is entitled Preparing the Fluteand presents a reduced scale interior of a theatre which refers to the set design adopted in Brussels. The structure has a series of five progressive wings which mark out the perspective of the space and act as a frame for the video projected onto the end wall. At the same time other animated images, these also drawn with white lines onto a black background are projected frontally using the lateral wings as screens.
The video and the drawings on display in the exhibition show landscapes and figures that allude, often in ironical fashion, to the events and characters from Mozart’s opera. In this way, the themes which are already present in other of Kentridge’s works – such as the caged lion, the metamorphosis whereby objects are transformed into animals, the broken lines that become brightly lit paths... – are joined by many other elements related to the story. The theatre thus becomes a sort of constantly changing “magic box”, beginning with the rocky landscape upon which appear images referring to ancient Egypt, its temples, pyramids and obelisks. The references to Egyptian civilisation form a symbolic allusion to the attainment of knowledge and wisdom, which represents one of the key elements of TheMagic Flute.
The showing of the video and the drawings that comprise Preparing the Fluteuse the well-established technique pioneered by the artist which involves recording the various stages and transformations of his drawings with photographic images. These images, which display evident signs of the modifications that they have undergone, are placed in sequence, thus creating the final animation.