Barber of the High Line? Architect Liz Diller is producing an opera at the park

She discussed the production at an event at the TRD publisher's home

TRD New York /
Jan.January 13, 2017 06:30 PM

Not every architect can pivot from designing a multimillion-dollar tower to perfecting a libretto — but enter Liz Diller, who is producing an opera for the High Line.

The opera, aptly dubbed the Mile Long Opera, is expected to open in 2019, Diller told a crowd of real estate professionals Thursday night. Diller — whose firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed the High Line with James Corner and Piet Oudolf — is collaborating with composer David Lang on the upcoming show.

The idea was partially inspired by a woman who performed one-woman cabarets on her fire escape a few yards away from the park, Diller said. The impromptu shows, called the Renegade Cabaret, were in response to the fact that park patrons were increasingly interrupting the privacy of a West 20th Street apartment. Diller wouldn’t provide additional details about her show, as it’s still in the planning stages. Lang, through a spokesperson, also declined to comment.

Diller mentioned the show during a discussion at the home of The Real Deal publisher Amir Korangy. More than 70 architects, developers and other real estate professionals were at the event, which has previously featured the likes of Bjarke Ingels and Chad Oppenheim.

Diller’s involvement in an opera, though unconventional, isn’t exactly surprising. Her work is largely grounded in the arts, and in fact, her firm’s early work consisted primarily of art installations and theater sets. And in 2013, she helped design the near-future world in Spike Jonze’s sci-fi satire film “Her.”

At Thursday’s event, Diller walked the audience through her work in New York City, including an early art installation at Times Square that consisted of a video of a woman’s lips, asking “Hey you, want to buy …” followed by a variety of impossible products.

Since then, her work in New York has included the High Line, 15 Hudson Yards, the master plan for the park at Governors Island, the redevelopment of Lincoln Center, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Educations Center at Columbia University and the Shed, a semi-mobile cultural center in Hudson Yards.

All photos by Alistair Gardiner for The Real Deal. 

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