David Leventi

May 7 - July 10, 2015

Opera is not a sort of extravaganza. Going to the opera is going to look at and listen to a work of art. It's like going to an exhibition or a museum. It's art and art is as important as air and water. It helps us to deal with our emotions, to grow up. I do believe it makes you a better human being.
–Nicolas Joel, Director, Opéra National de Paris, 2009 - 2012

In celebration of the publication of David Leventi’s soon to be released monograph, Opera (Damiani, 2015), Rick Wester Fine Art is very pleased to present an exhibition of his large-scale photographs from the series, the first solo exhibition dedicated to his work in New York. Leventi is a New York based architectural photographer with a client roster including Condé Nast Traveler, ESPN The Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Pentagram, TIME and many others. This eight year project is a thorough documentation of over 40 opera houses in 19 countries ranging from the prosaic but odd Death Valley Junction’s Amargosa Opera House to the ornate, Baroque period Markgräfliches Opernhaus in Bayreuth, Germany; the modern Metropolitan Opera House, New York and finally to the contemporary, stark Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain.

Leventi credits his love of the architectural spaces of these extravagant and awesome performance halls to being raised by architect parents and the influence of his maternal grandfather, a cantor with a golden voice, who aspired to singing opera until his forced internment in a Soviet labor camp during World War II.

A former assistant to the renowned photographer, Robert Polidori, Leventi’s own photographs display clarity and a pared down minimalist vision where volume and form take precedence over any overriding attitude or effect. The typology derived from the opera houses is formed by a consistent viewpoint from the stage, over the orchestra, where the often ornate ceilings play an impressive role in capping the spaces in heavenly domes. He sometimes photographs the stage itself from the audience, especially when the luxurious surfaces of the stage curtains come into play (or, as in the case of the beloved Palais Garnier in Paris, the trompe l’oeil painting of a curtain is too luscious a subject to ignore.) 

The dozen oversized prints on display are a Grand Tour of the world’s opera meccas, an opportunity to be transposed elsewhere. Leventi’s unparalleled talent is to meticulously recreate the reality of these spaces, producing mirrors for the imagination where the viewer stands in for both the audience and the performer. In his foreword to Opera, the venerable tenor, Plácido Domingo reflects on his career in saying what a privilege it is to be able to make one’s own contribution to opera, this great, unique art form, in the theaters for which many of the greatest operas were created. With Opera, David Leventi has made his own contribution to the field his grandfather aspired to, recording the past and the present for posterity. 

All works © 2015 David Leventi.