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Interview: Paco Azorín, the set designer for Turandot, the latest production by the Peralada Festival

Interview: Paco Azorín, the set designer for Turandot, the latest production by the Peralada Festival

'I hope the Peralada Festival will continue to put out its own productions, as they’ve found the way to do it right, and they’re meticulous about it'

Paco Azorín was the set director for the opera Otello, by Verdi, the Peralada Festival’s 2015 production. This year, he’s back at the Festival to handle the set design for Puccini’s opera, Turandot, the Festival’s third production of its own, which will directed by Mario Gas and staged on 6 and 8 August in the Peralada Castle Park Auditorium.

Paco Azorín studied set design and directing at the Institut del Teatre de Barcelona. He has created more than 150 sets for opera, theatre, dance and musical productions. In Spain, he works primarily with theatres and public festivals, including the Centro Dramático Nacional, the Teatre Lliure, the Teatro Español, the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, the Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Barcelona Grec Festival, among others.

In this interview, Azorín tells us about the preparations for the Turandot opera and the Peralada Festival.

¿Paco Azorín, what does this new commission from the Peralada Festival mean to you?

I’m very excited about it. I have been coming to this festival as a viewer since I was a child, and just as the Liceu theatre in Barcelona has been my winter opera school, the Peralada Festival has been my summer opera school. Having the Peralada Festival in my personal biography is really important, as it is a very special place for me. And if we add to that the fact that I am coming back to the Festival after the huge success of Otello and that I’m working alongside Mario Gas, who will be directing this opera, for me this is the biggest project of the year.

You will be working shoulder-to-shoulder with Mario Gas...

From the professional point of view, he is a director who could be considered my grandfather or my father... I have always worked with artists who are older than me, like Lluís Pasqual, and the truth is that for me they are teachers. I have been going to the Liceu to see Mario Gas’ productions since I was a child and now being able to work with him on Turandot is like returning to the Theatre Institute; you’re learning from the greats.

What are you doing to prepare the Turandot that we’ll be seeing at Peralada?

I’m a great admirer of this opera. As a viewer, I know it inside and out. To prepare the opera that we’ll be seeing at the Peralada Festival, the first thing I did was explore the music and the score in great depth. I’ve studied it very much to decide on a common ground with Mario Gas, to move away from clichés. This is an opera that has always been done with a Chinese-restaurant-type aesthetic, and what I want to do is give it a new image. I want the audience to see what they’re expecting to see, yet with more ingredients. As Federico García Lorca once said, "it isn’t a matter of giving them a wooden nickel, but rather giving them a golden nickel."

Do you have any acknowledgements regarding the productions of the Peralada Festival?

It’s a miracle that these productions can be put on through the private sector. This festival has become a repertoire benchmark around the world. Everyone looks forward to the programme with great delight. I hope Peralada will continue to put on its own productions, as they’ve found the way to do it right, and they’re really meticulous about it.

This year the Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary...

Given the state of affairs of culture in Spain, the 30 years of this festival really say a lot. Peralada has made a solid place for itself as one of the most important cultural events of the summer. Nevertheless, it ought to receive more support from the public realm and one excellent way to go about it would be through the combined financing from both the public and private sectors.