The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, November 28, 2022


How to keep an opera from bursting at the seams
A scene from the English National Opera’s production of “Akhnaten” in 2019, with costumes by Kevin Pollard. Many elements need to come together to create an opera that will absorb the attention of an audience, including the costumes, be they bodices and ball gowns for divas or admiral’s uniforms for baritones. Jane Hobson via The New York Times.

by Susanne Fowler



NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Many elements need to come together to create an opera that will absorb the attention of an audience, including the costumes, be they bodices and ballgowns for divas or admiral’s uniforms for baritones.

As the head of costume for the English National Opera, Sarah Bowern supervises a crew that can swell to 80 people filling roles like costume makers, milliners, dyers, dressers, makeup artists and wig managers. The company performs in English in the 2,359-seat London Coliseum in the West End.

Bowern, who is now supervising work on a production of “HMS Pinafore” set to open in October, is based at the opera’s rehearsal space in West Hampstead, in the building where Decca Records auditioned, then rejected, the Beatles in 1962. The following interview, conducted by email, has been edited and condensed.

Q: Describe a typical day.

A: No day is the same. I like to check in on the team first thing. If I am supervising a show I may be fabric sampling in London, meeting with designers and freelancers. I am always looking at the costume budgets and staffing levels. It’s a mixture of creative work and organization. If we are rehearsing onstage, I may spend the evening in the theater taking notes with designers or just being there to support the team.

Q: Are you behind the curtain on opening night to make sure everything still fits?

A: Yes I am. I like to walk around backstage and check that everything is OK before watching the show. Our dressers stand guard, side of stage — like costume police — to check that everyone is wearing everything properly. We have running wardrobe staff who will maintain the costumes throughout the run, including repairs.

Q: Your most memorable project?

A: “Benvenuto Cellini” in 2014 was probably my favorite production. It was directed by Terry Gilliam and was pretty crazy at times, but thrilling too. Katrina Lindsay designed the most beautiful costumes. It was an enormous show with over 500 costumes, hats and wigs. It was a lot of hard work, but a real showcase of our skills.

Q: The most difficult?

A: “Iolanthe” in 2018 was both difficult and rewarding. It was exquisitely designed by Paul Brown, but he became gravely ill and passed away during the production process and sadly didn’t get to see his designs realized.




The camaraderie across all departments to honor his designs and make them as beautiful as possible was wonderful.

Q: Any tricks of the costuming trade you can share?

A: A bit of a stretch in some fabrics is very helpful. Especially for any dancers in a production. Many fabrics that look like normal silk or wool will now have a percentage of Lycra or similar in them. I have found that opera singers are much more physical these days; they are asked to do much more in their performances, so we have to be mindful that the costume will allow them the freedom to move comfortably.

We try to get the performer to move as much as possible in the costume fitting so we can deal with any issues before we are onstage, but often we don’t discover and solve any real issues until the stage rehearsal period directly before a show opens.

A lot of our jobs cross over. Our milliner will make hats and masks but also jewelry and props. Our dye department obviously dyes fabrics, but probably the most key part of their job is “breaking down” the costumes: distressing them so they look old and worn.

Q: Is costuming for opera different than for a play?

A: Depends on the singer. For example, many singers I have costumed may like to wear a corset or boned bodice very tight so they can push their diaphragm against it. Others find it quite restricting, in which case we may use some elastic or Lycra to allow more movement. When we take measurements we do an expanded chest sizing, so a performer will be comfortable, and to avoid unfortunate ripping of a jacket seam when a tenor launches into a climactic aria.

Q: What about shoes?

A: We do take care of shoes. We have thousands of pairs of shoes that we reuse on many productions. It’s not that unusual for a singer to be wearing their slippers in the dressing room and get called to stage but forget to put their costume shoes on. We have often had a stage call for a “member of wardrobe to bring someone’s shoes to stage left immediately.”

Q: How would you describe your personal style?

A: Oh, it’s really pretty boring. I wear loads of black and muted colors. I love the ’30s and ’40s as a clothing period, and maybe if I didn’t work in costume I’d wear tea dresses and gabardine coats. But it would be a bit like wearing a costume.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.










Today's News

July 6, 2021

He's heir to a fruit-juice empire, but his main focus is art

Anti-colonialist preacher to stand over Trafalgar Square

Tate opens the UK's largest and most comprehensive retrospective of the work of Paula Rego

Phillips' London New Now Auction on 13 July to be led by Andy Warhol's Flowers

How to keep an opera from bursting at the seams

The story told by art in the Oval Office: A President's hopes and view of history

A glowing shrine to books

Exhibition presents a selection of sculptures, installations, and works on paper by Louise Bourgeois

Jason Phu awarded $80,000 Mordant Family Moving Image Commission for young Australian artists

Artangel opens a major new project on the Suffolk coast

Misia-O' wins Salon des Beaux Arts Jury Prize and opens exhibition at les Rencontres d'Arles

Robin Rhode's first solo exhibition in the Netherlands is now on view at the Museum Voorlinden

The Art of Forest Bathing - a new book by Julian Roup - into the secret heart of Ashdown Forest

'Superman' director Richard Donner dies at 91

MARGATE NOW announces artists, partners and projects for Sunken Ecologies

Oscar-winning Russian director Menshov dies of Covid at 81

Retooling 'La Bohème' for pandemic performances

Back at the barre, lessons learned

Review: 'The Watering Hole' can't quite quench a thirst

Guggenheim Bilbao presents 'Cecilia Bengolea: Animations in Water'

39th EVA International opens phase 2 of biennial

'Talibanned': From kite-running to breakdancing, Afghan pastimes again under threat

Inked mummies, linking tattoo artists with their ancestors

Lydia Lunch's infinite rebellion

Things That Every Certbolt Microsoft AZ-204 Certification Exam Applicant Should Know Beforehand

7 hacks to choose the best website designer

Artists continue to thrive on popular social media site TikTok

10 Tips for Designing an Artsy Rooftop from the Perspective of a Professional Roofer in Modesto

Rising Star Presents: The Billion Dollar Poem! Includes Photography Collection all titled "I Love Jesus"

Facts About Dryer Vent Cleaning for Toronto Homeowners

10 Nature Quotes to Let You Know Nature Inspires Art




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful