Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Top 4 Costumes

Opera transports the audience to worlds far away from the everyday, and costumes play a big role in creating that on-stage magic. Here are just a few of our favorite outfits from recent productions:

#1: The glam rock-inspired noblemen from Count Ory

© Jacob Lucas
This less famous but equally hilarious opera by Rossini, composer of The Barber of Seville, is so outrageous that it invites a costume designer to go over the topa challenge this production's designer, Dan Potra, gleefully accepted. The goofy plot in a medieval French setting reminded Potra and director Lindy Hume of Monty Python and the 1970s, an era that also saw the birth of glam rock. So this creative duo dreamed up a world for The Wicked Adventures of Count Ory in which the noblemen show off their wealth and status with studded leather jackets, leopard-print boots, and comically large codpieces. The result? A show The Seattle Times called, "Frothy, fast-paced, and irresistibly funny: Seattle Opera's most uproarious season-opener ever!"

#2: Queen Elizabeth's regal couture from Mary Stuart

© Philip Newton
When an opera calls for historical fiction, sometimes only gorgeous period costumes will do. In Mary Stuart, composer Donizetti imagines what might have happened if royal rivals Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots had ever met in person. (The two were cousins and corresponded in written letters, but they never met. Elizabeth ultimately had Mary executed.) Costume designer Jessica Jahn's gowns for the soprano playing Queen Elizabeth not only communicate this opera's time and place, but also try to give the audience the sense of awe that the royal court would have experienced in the Queen's presence. Watch to learn more:
Hear from costume designer Jessica Jahn as she discusses her approach to Seattle Opera's 2016 production of Mary Stuart.

#3: The royal court's formal attire in Turandot

© Elise Bakketun
Turandot, an epic tale of the proud, vengeful Princess Turandot who has had countless suitors executed, is considered by many to be Puccini's grandest opera. Much of the opera takes place at the royal court, so director Renaud Doucet and designer AndrĂ© Barbe pulled out all the stops not just for the main characters' garments but also for the costumes—like the one pictured here—worn by choristers, dancers, and supernumeraries ('supers' for short, they are like extras in a movie). Soaring music, world-class singers, and unforgettable visuals earned rave reviews for Seattle Opera's 2012 production from critics and audiences alike.

#4: Dancers' animal-inspired outfits from The Pearl Fishers

© Elise Bakketun
Opera regularly combines singing, orchestral music, acting, and dance into one extraordinary performance, but sometimes even more art forms join the fun—like when celebrated fashion designer Zandra Rhodes designed the sets and costumes for The Pearl Fishers at Seattle Opera in 2015. Fishing for pearls is a dangerous job, so the entire village prays for the safety of the fishermen in a ritual that involves ceremonial dancers (pictured above) and a beautiful chaste priestess who will, of course, find herself in the middle of a forbidden love triangle. Rhodes brought her signature imagination and colorful aesthetic to life in this opera, giving the dancers headdresses that represented the animal qualities and strengths the villagers hoped to bestow upon their fishermen.

Ready to experience a night of spectacular costumes and epic music for yourself? Explore our 2016/17 season to choose from over-the-top comedy, passion-fueled tragedy, colorful fantasy, and more.