Fedir Nirod is an outstanding Ukranian set designer whose rich inner world and distinctly individual artistic manner are visible in his work. For several decades, Nirod’s sets have determined the standards for stage design in Ukrainian opera and ballet,
Nirod’s creative career began in 1930 at the First Kiev State Polish Theatre and continued at the Zankovetska Ukrainian Drama Theatre in Zaporozhye and the Lvov Theatre of Opera and Ballet. Since 1961, he has been working with the Shevchenko Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Kiev. His early works, like Wilhelm Tell by Schiller, A Street of Joy by Zarkhi and Raban by Wandurski, already showed an integrated style which justified the laconic means of representation artistically. Gradually, his work became more distinctive and his artistic individuality more pronounced.
Nirod’s inimitable style has been most fully developed in the musical theatre, the genre to which the artist was drawn, possibly subconciously, during the fifteen years of work in the drama theatre. As a young man, he studied painting and intended to become a painter. His devotion to painting and ability to perceive the stylistic peculiarities of opera and ballet scores have merged in his sets for musical performances. A great connoisseur of the expressive potential of both arts, he has now devoted himself completely to the stage of the musical theatre and has become a true master in this genre with his unique ability to visualize sets for any music he hears at once, as though applying his perception of music to the plastic arts.
The conventional in his works is the result of artistic generalization, sending a visual message to the feelings and thoughts of the spectator. Since the genuine generalized artistic image is ever young, the master’s scenery sketches do not age with the years. The content and depth of an image predetermined by the place and time of action suggested by the composer prompt the artist to search for the proper touches in architecture and landscape. He employs those architectural monuments whose features most convincingly express the spirit of an epoch in all its complexity and contradictions. Examples of such interpretations can be found in sketches for Smetana’s Dalibor, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Paliashvili’s Abessalom and Eteri, Zna-tokov’s Svichka’s Wedding, and Verdi’s Otello.
Nirod’s stage landscapes, his skies and trees, always emotionally charged, are active components in the action (Halka, by Moniuszko; Quiet Flows the Don, by Dzerzhinsky; Song of the Forest, by Kireiko; In a Storm, by Khrennikov; Ivan Susanin, by Glinka; Eugene Onegin, by Tchaikovsky; The Servant Woman, by Verikivsky). The artist finds proper motifs for intermission curtains, which serve as original epigraphs to performances (Romeo and Juliet, by Prokofiev; Yaroslav the Wise, by Maiboroda; Otello, by Verdi; Olga, by Stankovich).
Taking stage action into consideration, the artist creates more “life-like” costumes for operas (Ivan Susanin, by Glinka; Prince Igor, by Borodin; The Servant Woman, by Verikivsky) and more stylized ones for ballets (Znatokov’s Svichka’s Wedding, Shtoharenko’s In the Name of Life, Stankovich’s Olga). Their outlines already suggest the nationality of the characters and the epoch recreated on the stage. In the colour scheme of a costume, the artist takes into consideration the role of the given character in the idea and artistic concept of the production as well as in its general visual composition. In numerous sketches to Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades and Swan Lake and Ovchinnikov’s War and Peace, he represents a whole gallery of psychologically authentic characters captured in motion.
Nirod’s art is deeply humanistic in its essence and highly professional. Being an adherent of definite principles and possessing a subtle sense of style and immaculate taste, the artist presents lofty ideals as well as noble and unfading beauty to his audiences.