Commissioned to paint a vast canvas celebrating the triumphant Battle of Lepanto, the free-spirited Galactia creates instead a breathtaking scene of war-torn carnage. In her fierce determination to stay true to herself, she alienates the authorities and faces incarceration. Her younger lover Carpeta is approached to take over and seizes the assignment for himself.
But listen, this is a State commission, an investment, an investment by us, the Republic of Venice, in you, Galactia. Empire and artist. Greatness beckons, and greatness imposes disciplines.
Howard Barker’s Scenes from an Execution makes sixteenth-century Venice the setting for a fearless exploration of sexual politics and the timeless tension between personal ambition and moral responsibility, between the patron’s demands and the artist’s autonomy.
Art is opinion, and opinion is the source of all authority.
This production ran from 27 September to 9 December 2012
photo (Fiona Shaw and Robert Hands) by Mark Douet
original poster photo (Fiona Shaw) by Jason Bell