The Jew of Malta, media stage and costume | 1999-2002




video | 01 |

The set design for the opera "The Jew of Malta" was an attempt to extend the opera stage with the help of new media to become an active part rather than only the scene of the action.

On the stage large planes were arranged onto which architecture, generated in real-time, was projected. The projection screens formed clipping planes through an imaginary virtual architecture positioned on stage. Machiavelli's – the opera’s protagonist’s — movements and gestures were camera tracked and the virtual architecture moved accordingly to his movements and gestures. This concept allowed linking the staged action and the architecture closely: Machiavelli as a powerful and dominant character in the play has power over the stage (and consequently over his co-actors) through the possibilities of interaction given to him.


In addition to the architecture, the costumes of the actors were also augmented with digital media. Via a tracking system developed especially for this opera, digital masks were generated according to the silhouettes of the actors in real-time. Textures had then been pastes into this masks and the ensuing virtual costumes were projected exactly fitting onto the singers. This way, it was possible to depict the characters’ conditions and feelings with dynamic textures on their bodies.


Despite the complexity of the software and hardware developed for this project, technology was never at the forefront. the exclusive aim was to generate new ways of expression to support the narration on and with the stage.

The project was commissioned by the Opera Biennale Munich in 1999 and premiered in 2002.

Composer: Andre Werner. Libretto based on the novel from Christopher Marlow.
The projects is a coproduction between ART+COM and Bureau Staubach. Supported by ZKM Karlsruhe.
Coauthors and developers: Nils Krueger, Bernd Lintermann, Andre Bernhardt, Jan Schroeder, Andreas Kratky