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Publié par Jean-Guy Lecat

       Transformation of a "Gas storage tank" from 19e century to a temporary theatre for "The Tragedy of Carmen" directed by Peter Brook.

La tragédie de Carmen in Copenhagen : The Ostre Gasvaerk, an abandoned gas storage tank is situated on the periphery of the city. The architect hid the metal gas container inside a brick cylinder supporting a wood and metal dome, based loosely on the Pantheon in Rome. No longer in use, it had become an illegal rubbish dump. The principal problem was the acoustics: the curves of the walls and the dome bounced sound around, giving rise to a ten second echo. The space design for Carmen, which took up slightly more than half of the available area, was oriented towards a section of the wall whose idiosyncratic round windows became the backdrop for the drama. The city offered some repairs to the roofing, and provided two hundred tons of earth to finish the floor. A carpentry company and its employees volunteered their labour to build the structure every day after normal working hours. In order to simplify the project, the dressing rooms were placed directly inside the wooden tiers.  The acting area, framed by wooden side walls, was positioned away from the geometrical centre of the space, to avoid the problem of sounds immediately returning to their source in an echo powerfully focussed by the dome. A heavy tarpaulin was stretched on a frame above the stage and backed with fibreglass; sound was reflected down to the audience and deadened behind it before it could resound around the dome. Any “lost” noise was captured by heavy black curtains hung along the back of the seats. The reverberation time was reduced to three seconds – about the upper limit of acceptability for opera. This space, which was transformed for the period of one month, has been a permanent space since 1983.

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