Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Monte Jacobson photo
Ieva Ohaks, Seattle Opera’s Costume Stock and Rental Coordinator, loves Halloween. This year, she's holding a “Medieval Fairy Tale” Halloween party, the theme of which was selected largely because everyone in her household got costumes from the old Lohengrin production at a Seattle Opera costume sale. ("We are so excited to show them off!"). Last year, it was a murder mystery/detective theme, and Ieva was Mrs. Peacock. Her dog was Colonel Mustard. 

The keeper of Seattle Opera's costume stock kingdom hopes to help you make the most out of Halloween. So this week, she's sharing some ideas for costumes inspired by iconic opera characters. These costumes will be easily recognized by opera fans, (but everyone will be able to appreciate them!). Cook up these do-it-yourself looks with thrift-store finds or items from your home. They can be created without sewing skills.

Opera Inspiration: Tosca 
The traditional Tosca is set in 1802, so the fashions are “Napoleonic” or “Empire.” The diva's most iconic look is for the second act, when she confronts the sadistic Baron Scarpia after singing for the dignitaries of Rome. She is wearing a spectacular gown, and it is usually—but not alwaysred. 

Ieva Ohaks drawing; Elise Bakketun photo 
  • Updo with tiara. 
  • Tiara, earrings and necklace: you might find something suitably sparkly at a teen accessory shop if you can't find a thrift-store source. 
  • Look for a long, straight gown with a high empire waist (or add a ribbon or metallic belt to a gown with no waistline) Short puffy sleeves are best. 
  • Long and rectangular; opulent. 
  • (Thrift store tip: look in the Housewares area for luxurious throw blankets or curtains—it's a good way to get a large enough piece of fabric). 
  • Above the elbow. 
Tosca's Iconic prop:

Elise Bakketun photo
  • The dagger, of course! Costume shops have all kinds of fake daggers. If you want to be scary, you can use one with fake blood, and even paint fake blood onto your gloves (ahead of time, so it has time to dry!) 
Mario Cavaradossi—Tosca's beloved, a painter
Ieva Ohaks drawing; Elise Bakketun photo
  • Tousled and styled forward. 
  • A little sideburn looks period. 
Oversized smock:
  • Dress shirt (gray, drab blue or beige work well) with a not-too-pointy standard collar. Turn the collar up. 
  • Add paint splotches. 
  • A long, supple, narrow scarf tide outside the collar to hold the collar up. Tie in a soft loose bow or a simple knot. 
  • Trim-fitting light tan trousers work well for the period. 
  • Option 1) Boots, ideally a slim riding-style boot, trousers tucked in. 
  • Option 2) Unobtrusive slip-on dress shoes; smooth toecap is best. 
Elise Bakketun photo
(Baron Scarpia is a thrilling sinister character, too; anyone who can get hold of a 1802 frockcoat suit doesn't need advice from me!)