Frank Gehry Made an Opera Set That Looks A Lot Like What He Created on The Simpsons

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Gehry’s rumpled set. (ArchPaper)

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A close-up of the tossed-off set. (ArchPaper)

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The infamous illustrated incident. (YouTube)

The hottest commission for starchitects these days is not some new condo or office tower, or a serious new cultural center, but instead an opera stage. Santiago Calatrava and Herzog & de Meuron are among the boldface designers who have come up with new stages, and now none other than Frank Gehry, king of them all, has had his star turn.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic is producing a run of Don Giovanni, at Mr. Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall it turns out, and thus the starchitect extraordinaire has designed the set. Though the space is almost strictly for symphonic performances, as The Architect’s Newspaper notes, how could the philharmonic not embrace the Gehry synergy to sell some tickets? ButThe Observer could not help feeling the set looked awfully familiar, from another piece of staged entertainment, in fact.

We already know that Frank Gehry hates his star turn on The Simpsons because so many people actually think he creates his building by crumpling up a piece of paper. “That was just a fun–fun thing,” he once told CNN. “But it has–it has haunted me. People do–who’ve seen The Simpsons believe it.”

Turns out, at least in this case, it was true, according to A|N:

Executing the evocative white and black sculptures was not easy.  Designed in model form by crumpling paper, they were built onstage by Gehry’s staff using 80 rolls of nine-foot wide paper hung on concealed wooden frames. In the end, Gehry said the executed set “did not look like the model at all.”  And because some of the singers physically interacted with the sculptures, about a fifth of them had to be repaired and reshaped after each performance.

So there you have it. Frank Gehry does design with crumpled up pieces of paper, at least some of the time.