Luis F. Carvalho is a production designer whose work spans the worlds of opera, theatre and dance. He has been working extensively in the theatre industry for twenty years.
Most recent projects have seen Luis designing at Opera di Roma, Opera National du Rhin, Teatro alla Scala and Sadler’s Wells. Upcoming productions will take Luis to Opera National de Loraine, Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Teatro Real Madrid and Deutsche Oper.
Born and raised in Portugal, Luis moved to London in 1991 to pursue his passion in theatre design. He has first-class honours degrees in Theatre/Film Design and Women’s-Wear Fashion Design from Wimbledon School of Art and Central Saint Martins College respectively.
Upon graduating Luis took his first job as assistant to Peter J. Davison on the set designs for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Whistle Down the Wind. Here begun an apprenticeship in the art of model making, technical drawing and theatre design. After many projects under the guidance of Peter, Luis went on to be mentored by the award-winning theatre designer Paul Brown. What started as some model making on ‘Man of La Mancha’ (Broadway) turned into a twelve year partnership. Luis was Paul’s assistant/associate designer on over forty productions for opera, theatre and musicals at many of the most prestigious houses across the world.
No better foundation than this to begin one’s own career and so, armed with this experience and acumen, Luis has undertaken many design projects and has just fulfilled one of his dreams, to design an opera at Teatro alla Scala, possibly the most celebrated opera house in the world.
Luis believes the best designs come from having a blank canvas to envision a new world and its inhabitants. Given his background in theatre and fashion, he is equally skilled in designing both sets and costumes. He loves the freedom that comes with creating both in order to deliver the complete vision. A common starting point on any project – be it theatre, opera or dance – is through the exploration of the characters in the piece: Who are they? What makes them who they are? What is the relationship to one another and the world they inhabit?
The further Luis and the director/choreographer explore these characters, the more fleshed out their world becomes. It is this signature style that showcases his ability to offer a streamlined, yet dynamic, approach to his work.
Much like the inner-workings of a clock, all productions have many cogs: the artistic direction, the performers, the sets, the costumes, the lights, the props. If one of these elements is removed or fails to fulfil its criteria, then the mechanism changes and in some cases, fails. In Luis’s opinion it is the harmonious combination of all of these elements that makes a production successful and memorable.
A healthy and holistic collaboration with the director/choreographer is paramount to any successful production, and often the most successful artistic teams work best when the objective is the same, that is, to create a vision that firmly engages the audience. A vision that doesn’t necessarily please them, but challenges them, makes them think, smile, and cry. In simple terms, this vision touches their emotions. When this director/designer partnership is symbiotic and the roles blur in a collaborative fusion, the work achieves this emotive effect.
Theatre, in all its forms, has the capacity to enhance, change, and ultimately alter one’s life. Luis ensures that through his work audiences walk away from his productions moved. Thoughts and emotions are provoked, lives are enriched and changed. The medium of live performance, coupled with artistic direction and his designs, ensure that the production inspires and impresses the audience, leaving them reflective of their experience and lives outside of the theatre.