COURT & CONQUEST: OTTOMAN ORIGINS AND THE DESIGN FOR HANDEL'S TAMERLANO AT THE GLIMMERGLASS OPERA
February 17, 1999 - April 25, 1999
Walter B. Denny, Curator
In 1998 the Kent State University Museum presented an exhibition entitled "Court and Conquest: Ottoman Origins and the Design for Handel's 'Tamerlano' at the Glimmerglass Opera," featuring costumes designed by Judy Levin. The exhibition was organized by the museum and the AXA Gallery (formerly the Equitable Gallery) with the cooperation of the Glimmerglass Opera, Cooperstown, New York. The AXA Gallery is sponsored by the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States.
In 2001, the exhibition will be on display at The Brunei Gallery of The School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. The London venue is sponsored by Continental Airlines.
Curated by Dr. Walter B. Denny, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the exhibition focused on the original Ottoman and European Orientalist sources used by Miss Levin as inspirations for her designs. Included were Ottoman textiles, armor, illuminated manuscripts, sultan portraits, Orientalist prints, clothing and jeweled buckles juxtaposed with the opulent opera costumes created for the 1995 Glimmerglass Opera production.
Composed by Handel in 1724, just 25 years after the Treaty of Vienna concluded peace between European states and the Ottoman empire, the opera's story of the Central Asian conqueror Timur's epic battle and defeat of the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I, in 1402, had great currency for Handel's audience. The director of the Glimmerglass production, Jonathan Miller, felt that the design of the production should reflect the 18-century view of the Ottoman empire and of the historic 15-century battle. The challenge met by set designer John Conklin and costume designer Judy Levin was to create a contemporary opera production that fulfilled Dr. Miller's concept for the opera.
The Kent State University Museum published a fully illustrated catalog to accompany the exhibition with essays by Dr. Denny; Dr. Aileen Ribeiro of the Courtauld Institute, London; Judy Levin; and Jean L. Druesedow, director of the museum.