Costuming an Opera, Part 1 – Idomeneo at the University of Montana

23 Apr

I disappeared from blogging for a while recently. Partially this was because I ran out of costumes to yammer on about, but the main reason is that I was busy costuming Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo” for the University of Montana with my costuming partner Catey Lockhart.

The director of the opera, Anne Basinski, has been following this blog for awhile, and she wrote to me asking if I’d participate in the University’s production of Idomeneo. I said I would do it if Catey helped, and Catey agreed! So we created costumes for six leads.

A scene from Idomeneo featuring three of the leads, Idamante, Idomeneo and Elettra. Costumes by Tyson Vick and Catey Lockhart.

A scene from Idomeneo featuring three of the leads, Idamante, Idomeneo and Elettra. Costumes by Tyson Vick and Catey Lockhart.

The opera, ostensibly about a giant sea monster attack where a thousand people die of vomiting black tar, was put on by the students at the University of Montana. Many of the leads are graduate students. Idomeneo features two princesses, numerous cast members washing up on shore and many tenors. Sometimes tenors washing up on shore! 

Ilia, a Trojan Princess, in the opera Idomeneo. Costume by Tyson Vick and Catey Lockhart.

Ilia, a Trojan Princess, in the opera Idomeneo. Costume by Tyson Vick and Catey Lockhart.

This year the budget was small, and nearly the entire budget was devoted to these costumes. The director wanted them to stand out and to evoke the sea, in many differing shades of blue, except for the visiting princess, Elettra, who is an outsider, which we reflected in her color scheme of gold and red.

Elettra in the opera Idomeneo wears a costume by Tyson Vick.

Elettra in the opera Idomeneo wears a costume by Tyson Vick.

The costumes of the chorus were selected from the opera of the previous year, which had many dancers and choristers. For Idomeneo, shades of blue and sea colors were chosen for all the chorus members.

Vomited black tar to death, poor dear. In this scene from Idomeneo the High Priest looks over the carnage caused by the seamonster.

Vomited black tar to death, poor dear. In this scene from Idomeneo the High Priest looks over the carnage caused by the seamonster.

The effect I was going for was to evoke the original production’s mix of 1700s and the ancient world.

Idomeneo and Arbace wear costumes by Tyson Vick and Catey Lockhart.

Idomeneo and Arbace wear costumes by Tyson Vick and Catey Lockhart.

In the next few days, I will be posting about how Catey and I made the costumes!

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One Response to “Costuming an Opera, Part 1 – Idomeneo at the University of Montana”

  1. Roo Bookaroo April 24, 2015 at 4:25 am #

    Beautiful costumes. Wonderful to inject much more color than Jean-Pierre PONNELLE did in his video, and escape from his sinister prevalence of black in favor of blues and purples. Idomeneo’s breastplate is terrific, and the ladies’ dresses young and feminine. That is the general impression: the costumes project an allure of youth far better than Ponnelle’s costumes, which looked much more mature and older.
    Ponnelle was never able to get away from his ideal look of Versailles courtiers, at least as he imagined them. He willingly forgot that the characters were Greek, and that the staging and costumes should reflect the tonalities of sand and sea, and luminous blue skies of Greece.

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