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Pierre Yovanovitch creates set for Verdi’s Rigoletto at Basel Opera


French interior designer Pierre Yovanovitch has created the set for Theatre Basel’s production of Verdi’s Rigoletto in Switzerland, which features a curvilinear staircase that crosses the full width of the stage.

Within the curving staircase, Yovanovitch installed moving, curved walls to create different spaces for the performers. Along the edges, simple doorways and windows punctuate the smooth walls.

Pierre Yovanovitch set design for Rigoletto at Theatre Basel
Moveable, curved walls echo the shape of the curvilinear staircase that dominates the set              

Yovanovitch, an opera enthusiast who usually works in residential interior and furniture design, mixed elements of his own style with those of French scenographer Richard Peduzzi.

The intention was for the scenography to provide a neutral backdrop for Rigoletto‘s complex plot.

Pierre Yovanovitch set design for Rigoletto at Theatre Basel
Furniture pieces created by Yovanovitch were used as props

“I wanted to stick with contemporary, bold colours and materials to complement the level of drama unfolding with the show and also to distinguish one act from the next,” Yovanovitch told Dezeen.

“The set needs to be functional and adaptive to the change in acts, whereas my residential or furniture design is more about designing for a specific, unchanging space.”

Pierre Yovanovitch set design for Rigoletto at Theatre Basel
Coloured lighting was used to highlight dramatic moments and change the mood of the set

“Opera allows me to be excessive, to dream and to feel strong emotions,” he continued.

It was nice to work on a design which emphasized the dramatic nature of the play, whereas, in my job as an architect, I try to create calm environments in which one feels at peace.”

The designer also created furniture pieces for the production, which included a red circular table and stools, a bed, a curved sectional sofa and a chandelier.

“I incorporated architectural elements that I use in my design practice regularly, such as curvilinear lines and an undulating staircase”, he told Dezeen.

Pierre Yovanovitch set design for Rigoletto at Theatre Basel
Architectural elements were incorporated into the set design

Lighting design was used to complement the design scheme and to make clear distinctions between the different moods and accentuate climatic moments.

“The bright red, blue and white colours selected for the curved walls were carefully selected to frame the characters and draw attention to the shift in acts throughout the show.”

Pierre Yovanovitch set design for Rigoletto at Theatre Basel
Yovanovitch created the furniture for the production, including a red circular table and stools

Other recent examples of set design include a series of art-deco chandeliers for Prada’s Autumn Winter 2023 menswear show by AMO and five afrofuturist chairs by Jomo Tariku that featured in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Photography is by Paolo Abate.


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