“Everything that comes through the workshops ends up here.”
N.S., head of the painting workshop
The masterful backdrops are one of the specialities of the Painting workshop. They can measure up to 11 m high and 25 m wide! The great height of the workshop allows the evolution of the work being carried out to be viewed from above.
How something looks from a distance is crucial, but the detail is equally so!
The workshop’s large windows provide plenty of light for the painters to work in.
But all the sets painted here end up onstage. The painters frequently switch off the lights in the workshop and light the canvases with spotlights to get an impression of the final effect. Very often, the colours must be darkened to counteract the brightness onstage.
The à l’italienne method consists of painting on canvases that are stretched on the ground using long brushes. Images are reproduced “by the square” (the original is divided into squares which are then reproduced, one by one, on the canvas).
Paint brushes of all shapes and sizes, rollers, spray guns are the everyday tools of the painters. But they are also frequently tasked with constructing tools to measure to meet each new challenge set by the designers (large sculpted foam wheels to imitate wheel tracks, for example).
Fake concrete, fake snow, fake marble… patinas and textures are indispensable to opera scenery.
Stormy skies, abandoned towns, mysterious mountains, enchanted forests, landscapes, and extraordinary motifs; sometimes abstract, sometimes figurative…
At La Monnaie, all the wooden parts of the sets are fireproofed, in other words, coated with intumescent black paint. This makes them slower to catch alight (but does not prevent them from burning entirely, merely allowing an orderly evacuation of the auditorium and of the stage in the event of a fire). Anti-rust treatments are also applied to the metal parts of the sets.
Since 2018, in an effort to develop a more ecologically sound model of production, La Monnaie has been considering ways to reduce the environmental impact of the sets. More and more elements are now recycled within the Workshops, while others are entrusted to external partners who give them a second life.