A Month at The Opera

By Sarah Waghorn — September 10, 2012

Here at Pukeko Design we also do the odd bit of costuming for Opera Lyra.

It’s kind of a weird gig because we don’t design the show but we don’t exactly build it either. Opera in North America is very good at sharing so companies like Opera de Montreal will build an entire opera (set, costumes and props) and once they have used it they will store so that it is available for other companies to rent.

That means that about 4 months before the Opera is installed at the National Arts Centre we receive a binder with lots of lists and photo’s of the existing costumes to get a feel sense of size, look and feel of the pieces. Then four weeks before opening night the 100+ costumes are delivered to us in hampers.

Now the job begins. We unpack the costumes and hang them in order (soloists, female chorus, male chorus, children and supers.) Then each piece of costume is measured and tagged. If you’ve ever seen an Opera than you know that this means a lot of pieces.

The cast is measured in advance so now we begin the task of comparing numbers and assigning costumes to our chorus. If the difference is a couple of inches either way we can simply alter it but if it the difference between current cast member and original cast member (from 5, 10 or 25 years ago) is too great then we need to build a whole new costume. This happens anywhere from 1-10 times a show.

Once everything is ready and labelled – (we mean everything; hats, undergarments, socks etc) – we pack it up for the move to the National Arts Centre. There are only a couple of rehearsals and a little bit of time for last minute alterations or repairs. Then after only a few intense days of hard work, the show is ready for you to see it!