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Camilla Tassi

Projection designer: Debussy, La chute de la maison Usher.

During my time as a special fellow here at Yale, I am designing for ensembles and groups of varying musicianship. An area I care to promote is student-led opera and initiative/experimentation with classical music. As a result, I collaborated with the Opera Theater of Yale College on a staged production of Debussy's opera "La chute de la maison Usher".

In 1977, Yale undergraduate student Carolyn Abbate came across the opera's manuscript in Paris. The score, based on Poe’s short story, was unfinished and elements were missing from the manuscript, as Debussy passed away before its completion.

Abbate spearheaded a reconstruction project, and a first performance was premiered here on campus.

100 years after Debussy’s death, the Opera Theater of Yale College decided to program this work - to frame it, 3 short pieces by Debussy (including “Apparition” for soprano and piano) were intermixed as prelude, divertissement, and postlude - to provide a greater insight into the characters, particularly Madeline, and to extend upon the unfinished narrative.

The score is quite dark and provides ample space for interpretation - exploring Roderick’s mad scene and Madeline’s more romantic scenes proved to be particular treats for projection.

Underbrook Theater, Saybrook College, Yale University.

Student director: Kohl Weisman

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