Before I ever learned how to make clothing, which was five years ago, I was in the early stages of creating my Mozart Project photos. The biggest shoot up until that point involved four models depicting vignettes from Mozart’s opera “Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail”, which is not only impossible to say, it also translates into something even equally hard to say, “The Abduction from the Seraglio”. I usually just call it “The Abduction” because nobody knows what I’m saying if I do either full title. I did not have costumes for this shoot, because, as I said, I didn’t know how to make them at this point, but I had a friend named Camille who often worked as a costumer on the Intermountain Opera stage, and she had many costumes. She agreed to help me costume this shoot.
I met Camille while working as an extra or actor on the set of a short film. She was very interested in making corsets, having made around a dozen, and I was looking for corsets for my shoots. We got to talking and became friends. After a year or so of borrowing pieces of her wardrobe, I asked if she wanted to help costume my “Abduction” photos, and she said yes. I had found an opera poster for “Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail” that I loved because it totally captured the spirit of the play. I decided to create my photos with a similar motif and color palate.
Camille’s wardrobe was full of brightly colored outfits which would work perfectly. I also wanted the hero, Belmonte, to look like he had been traveling all over the seas looking for his Abducted bride. So, I asked Camille if we could dress him like Orlando Bloom in the “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Since this was before I was making costumes for the project, we went through her closet and found some items we thought would be appropriate.
The rest of the costumes were taken from her stash based on their bright and beautiful color scheme. They included a beautiful orange silk corset, orange and blue coats, and red skirts.
The opera, Mozart’s leap into musical maturity, tells the story of a man, Belmonte, whose bride and servants are kidnapped by pirates and sold to the Sultan in the East. The opera begins on the day he finds out where they are being kept. His Bride, her handmaiden and their valet are all locked inside the Harem. The Sultan is trying to convince Konstanza, Belmonte’s beloved, to marry him instead. She refuses. Belmonte himself is barred at the gate by the awesome and villainous Master of the Girls (Kızlar Ağasi), Osmin.
After a while Belmonte manages to contact his valet, Pedrillo, and together they come up with numerous plots to deceive Osmin and rescue the women. However, all four are caught during their escape. When the Sultan realizes that Belmonte is the son of his worst enemy, he takes a moment to decide their fate. In a twist ending, the Sultan decides to shame his Christian enemies by showing unrivaled forgiveness and compassion. He sets all four captives free, and secures their passage home. It’s all very adventurey and beautiful.
Our shoot took place at the house of always helpful web developer Jason Lengstorf, who had a wall size mirror opposite the photo shoot which allowed the models to see exactly what they were doing, and surprisingly helped them make every photo photogenic. As per usual, Lizzie Hatfield did the hair and make-up.
Because of that mirror, and quite possibly the rum that our Belmonte came across, the shoot went very quickly!
The models were mainly musicians. I had seen Maria Giarrizzo (Our Konstanza) as the lead in a production of “Gypsy” that Lizzie had worked on. Scott (Belmonte) and Drew Barker (Pedrillo) I knew from local bands. Drew is still a working musician in the band Places, and you can visit their Facebook page here. Caitlin (Blondchen) was a friend of the boys, and had a musical background as well.
So, I have a confession to make… and this was the second time it had happened in my career. It’s very sad and embarrassing. Once everything was in place, and all the models were dressed and made-up, I started taking pictures without putting film in the camera. I only noticed when the camera noise seemed a little off. Can you think of anything more ridiculous? Well, from that point on, I have not made that mistake again. For the past five years, before every shoot starts, I say to Lizzie, “What’s the most important thing about taking pictures?” and she says, “Putting film in the camera.”
If I’ve learned one thing as a photographer, it’s that pictures turn out better when you put film in the camera.
This shoot was the biggest shoot I had done before I started making costumes myself. There was a full team, and it showed me that I could take on some of the larger, more elaborate photos in the years that followed. I think the photos are a lot of fun, and I love the bright colors! I hope you enjoy them, too!