Acis and Galatea CMU

Scenic Designer

Known as the greatest pastoral opera, Acis and Galatea was composed by Handel in 1718. Acis and Galatea was the opera of Handel's most performed during his lifetime. It tells of the love between Acis, an Arcadian shepherd, and Galatea, a nymph, and the mortal jealousy of Polyphemus, a giant.

Tom Kelly-Scenic Designer

Acis and Galatea

In the adaption by Carnegie Mellon's school of music, we tried to bring the story and metaphors from Handel's original opera and place it into midcentury Cuba for a modern audience. By setting it in a more real setting the audience will be able to connect with the characters more, especially if they imagined being in the same room as the story. The Original text talks of a beautiful paradise that Acis and Galatea's community calls their own. It is then truly realized when the Lovers find each other and act one ends. Then as Act two opens, Polyfemus, the Cyclopes, disrupts their paradise in his pursuit for Galatea. By separating Acis & Galatea's world and Polyfeumus's we were able to establish an in-between space, a space between Acis and Galatea's unreachable paradise as well as Polyfemus's harsh outside world. This in-between space became something where the characters come to enjoy themselves, to meet, and to spend time, a local bar. On stage left is the outside street, where Polyfemus roams the city as a higher class individual. On the stage right side is the enclosed lush Caribbean courtyard, behind a large glass window. This creates a unique bar with story that everyone wants to come to and have a drink after work. The color of the walls resembles a tropical waterfall and also establishes that this bar is Galatea's (a water nymph). When Polyfemus enters, the room will seem as if it has died as the lights turn from sunset to an orange dusk. At the end of the original show Galatea turns Acis into a fountain, in this adaption rather than using magic, Galatea washes the bloody clothes of Acis and creates a stream of blood across the floor symbolizing his being becoming an everlasting part of this in-between world.

In addition to being the Scenic Designer I was also hired to do the graphic design for the show as well since it was a unique take on the Opera. 

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