Right from the start, working with Bejun Mehta was both special and intense.
A few days before the photo shooting, we all met up in a restaurant in Berlin to grab a bite to eat, right after one of Bejun’s rehearsals with the Deutsche Oper. He was dressed very elegantly, in a suit and hat.
When we spoke about the ideas for the shooting, I immediately realised that Bejun had very clear ideas about the story that he wanted to tell with the album. He very actively put forward ideas and suggestions. In fact he was so proactive, constructive, and imaginative, that at times I got the impression that I was working with another visual art director as opposed to a musician. And at the same time he always respected my opinion, and trusted my way of visually explaining the story we had in front of us in the best way possible.
The works of the album were created in that unclear and exciting period between Baroque and Classicism (1758-1772), in which composers wanted to break out of the old rules of Baroque; to explore and discover and to verge towards a new stage: Classicism. The title of the album was “Che puro ciel – The rise of classical opera”.
‘Che puro ciel’ (which translates as ‘such pure sky’) is the title of one of the album’s arias and very accurately reflected this revelation of new values, of opening the door to classicism. It was this title that served as the main inspiration for the photo shooting.
We decided to dress Bejun in a baroque suit and to paint his face with white make up, which was very typical of this period. To create the sensation of rupture, the action focused on the moment in which Bejun removes his make-up and takes off the baroque clothing and wig (breaking away from Baroque norms), and as a result he immediately discovers this ‘new world’, this ‘pure, open sky’ of new possibilities. Apart from rupture, the images had to transmit a certain freedom, as if to say “finally I can breathe”, “I can see the sky”, “I feel liberated”.