Costuming an Opera, Part 3 – The Princesses of Idomeneo

28 Apr

The opera Idomeneo features many things — many tenors, many sea monster deaths and many princesses. This post consists of two rival princesses, Ilia and Elettra, and the costumes Catey and I made for them in the University of Montana’s production.

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.

Ilia wears a beautiful green-blue silk/metal blend. The fabric is the second most expensive fabric in the opera, fitting her station as a princess. I only got one before picture — the one where the fabric was just lying around, so you’ll have to imagine how it was put together!

The fabric before becoming a dress and after becoming a dress on actress Carly as Ilia.

The fabric before becoming a dress and after becoming a dress on actress Carly as Ilia.

The dress was made to be worn three different ways, but during the production it seemed to settle on the one seen in these pictures. The dress is soft and light to reflect the character of the princess, who is the romantic lead of the play.

Ilia tells Idomeneo that he's like a father to her.

Ilia tells Idomeneo that he’s like a father to her.

You can view Ilia’s dress wafting around in the video below:

Elettra, the rival princess, is a visitor to Crete. She is alternately snubbed and ignored by the entirety of the cast, with a few bones thrown her way — mainly by Idomeneo and Ilia. She wants to marry prince Idamante, but generally just gets crazier and crazier. I wanted her to stand apart from the rest of the characters in both color scheme and dress shape. Each time she comes on stage her dress changes a little.

Elettra's dress in its three forms. Costume by Tyson Vick.

Elettra’s dress in its three forms at a fitting. Costume by Tyson Vick.

I did not get any images of the creation of this dress because it took a lot of thought. It has around 13 yards of fabric in it, a gold metallic underskirt with gold netting overlay that flows in a train behind her.

Some images of her moving can be seen below. The effect was very beautiful.

The only pics I could get of Elettra's dress from different angles.

The only pics I could get of Elettra’s dress from different angles.

There is a hoop under her skirt to give some volume to the many gold layers. Watching her rise and fall was very fun.

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

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

Below you can see a video of Elettra’s dress in action:

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