The stage design works of António Soares, a key figure of Portuguese modernism (1915-1945)

Early stage works
António Soares began working for the stage since early 1910's,  designing posters and other graphic materials. Those works reveal the elegance and modernity of his drawing.
The fascination of the dance
The experience of the Ballets Russes' Lisbon performances was an aesthetical breakthrough for António Soares. He immediately begun a research on the representation of dance and mouvement.
The modernism activist
António Soares stands up for the Portuguese modernist mouvement. He collaborates in several modernist actions and publications, being close to António Ferro, one of the key figures of the mouvement. Soares participates in one of the more important modernist artistic initiatives, the decoration of the Brasileira coffee palace

Detail from António Soares' "Café da Noite" painting.

A fascination for Berta Singerman
Fascinated by the Argentinian-russian diseuse and actress Berta Singerman, artist praised by Portuguese modernists, António Soares became close to Singerman, makes several drawings of her and some sketches for the sets of her performances.

Detail from "Olha a Bertha" drawing.

Berta Singerman, daughter and husband with António Soares [probably in Avenida Palace Hotel, Lisbon].

Modernizing the stages: first steps
Since 1927, António Soares will become one of the more important artists that contributed to the renovation of the Portuguese revue, drawing the modernist curtains for the Rambóia performances (1928) and several other Lisbon theatrical shows.

Detail from "Rambóia" curtain study with stylized regional costumes.

Body and nudity
Lea Niako was one of the first dancers to surprise and shock the Portuguese society with her performances of nudity on stage. Her beauty fascinated António Soares.
Lisbon's modern clubs
Since mid 1920's several nightclubs and a few other more tradicional clubs and coffee palaces renovate their decoration to suit a modern and cosmopolitan taste. António Soares was engaged in several renovation Works.

Detail of screen with Harlequin.

Detail of screen with cosmopolitan woman.

Detail of screen with cosmopolitan woman.

Detail of drawing for Bristol Club, dancers.

A dance circle
In the late 1920's, António Soares became close to a dance circle that gathered around the dancer Francis Graça and was about to change dance practices in Portugal. Soares was close to Natacha Baltrina, a Letonian dancer that performed on Portuguese stages with Francis and particularly with Maria Germana, a pupil of Francis that soon would become his wife.
Designing a modern "Revista à Portuguesa"
Since late 1920's António Soares was a leading set designer for the "Revista à Portuguesa" a music-hall-vaudeville theatrical genre that became considerably popular in Portugal. Some of his creations were striking, influenced other artists and helped to change the public's taste towards modernism.

A modern view: a glimpse into skyscrapers.

A modern view: Zeppelin' glance.

A modern view: the Brooklin bridge deck.

Suggesting tropicalism, a monkey in a coconut tree.

Modernism and set designing
Circa 1930, António Soares begun colaborating with the major Portuguese Theatrical companies in their important productions. His modern stage work was granted and contributed to change set design.

A cosmopolitan decoration emphasizes the play's contemporary character.

A detail of the feature's rich set design project. In the right panel a spectre suggesting the ambiguous psichological nature of the main character.

Detail of the painting "Atrás dos bastidores" [In the backstage] with a dancer and two pierrot figures.

Erudite set designing
For Jean Giraudoux's "Electra", António Soares designed a series of particularly erudite sketches, inspired in Louis Jouvet's  staging of that play for the Studio des Champs-Élysées theater.

Detail of a sketch for the set design of Electra.

Scene from "Electra" with actors Maria Lalande, Hortense Luz, Carmen Dolores, Assis Pacheco, João Villaret, António Silva e Ribeirinho.

Museu Nacional do Teatro e da Dança
Credits: Story

Museu Nacional do Teatro e da Dança

Credits: All media
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