Tag Archives: costuming

Costuming an Opera, Part 2 – Creating Idomeneo

27 Apr

The lead character of the opera “Idomeneo” by Mozart is the King of Crete, Idomeneo. When Catey and I were asked to costume this opera, it was important to give Idomeneo a Kingly look.

Idomeneo laments having to stab his own kid to death.

Idomeneo laments having to stab his own kid to death.

I based my basic concept for the lead costume off of the original costume from the first performance of the opera back when Mozart wrote it:

The original Idomeneo costume.

The original Idomeneo costume.

When Idomeneo first washes up on shore, something that happens to people a lot in this play, I wanted to evoke a wet feel. There wasn’t a large budget for much set design, so I took a very textured gold fabric and overlayed a sheer sparkling blue on top to express coming out of the sea.

The lowest layer of Idomeneo's costume under construction. The textured fabric is covered by a sparkly sheer overlay to evoke wetness.

The lowest layer of Idomeneo’s costume under construction. The textured fabric is covered by a sparkly sheer overlay to evoke wetness.

The costume can be seen on stage below as Idomeneo confronts the specter of the person he has vowed to kill, a specter which haunts him.

The sparkly costume in action on actor Ben as Idomeneo.

The sparkly costume in action on actor Ben as Idomeneo.

When he returns home to his throne, he dons his coat, cape and armor.

The coat is one of the two most expensive fabrics in the opera. I once attended a play of cobbled together costumes where the monarch was wearing polyester (because someone thought it looked shiny, and therefore rich, or something) and the poor people were wearing silk, linen and cotton that had been distressed (so it looked shabby?) I decided to avoid the mistake of costuming the richest person in the cheapest fabric, so here you go, Idomeneo, at $35/yd, this coat is the richest piece in the opera.

The idomeneo fabric. Catey and I lay out pattern pieces to fit.

The idomeneo fabric. Catey and I lay out pattern pieces to fit.

The coat is a standard Rococo cut, like a pirate frock coat. If lifted from the bottom front over the top of the head, it creates a full circle of fabric.

Idomeneo's costume under construction. Catey cuts out the pieces.

Idomeneo’s costume under construction. Catey cuts out the pieces.

Catey and I did not manage to line up all of the diamond pattern at the seams, but what you gonna do?

Pinning together the Idomeneo coat.

Pinning together the Idomeneo coat.

We had to travel a few times to the University to take measurements of the entire cast. I also returned later to try some things on the actors.

Below you can see images from the first and final fittings.

The actor of Idomeneo, Ben, at his first fitting and final fitting.

The actor of Idomeneo, Ben, at his first fitting and final fitting.

We also did not have the budget for real armor, so a costume breastplate was used.

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.

I was quite pleased with the way Idomeneo’s costume looked on stage. It was regal, evoked tradition, and seemed to help the actor, Ben, get into character.

Below you can watch a video from a dress rehearsal of Ben Fox in full costume as Idomeneo!

Please subscribe to get more behind-the-scenes of my costuming endeavors!

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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!

Don Giovanni Costumes, Menswear

29 Sep

Now that my Mozart Project is nearly finished, and I am working on getting the book ready, I will be taking you on a tour of all those costumes which never got blogged about before! As I am currently preparing the photos for my book which will feature all of my illustrations of Mozart’s operas plus text I am writing about each play, there is very little new costume progress to show you guys! But perhaps you will enjoy looking costumes from the finished photos a little closer?

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First up is Don Giovanni! In my award winning photo, seen below, the feast scene in Don Giovanni is depicted. I chose to photograph it like a fashion spread, and therefore made unique costumes for each player, as well as the leads.

Don Giovanni Act Two, by Tyson Vick

Don Giovanni Act Two, by Tyson Vick

 

Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni’s coat is opulent. The structure is a Renaissance doublet, and the effect used on the fabric is extremely complex. It is essentially hundreds of pintucks.

Jake models the outfit worn  by Don Giovanni to show it off clearly.

Jake models the outfit worn by Don Giovanni to show it off clearly.

This, to date,is the most difficult costume I have made. It is the only one that I have ever attempted that I thought I might have to quit because of the difficulty. I used an idea from the book Fabricate by  Susan Wasinger (which is practically free on Amazon, so click that link and git it!) where pintucks are overlapped to create a fabric made of ridges.

A close up of the fantastic detail of the coat.

A close up of the fantastic detail of the coat.

The problem with the tutorial is that it was impossible to control over the size and dimensions of the doublet pattern, and after the first two rows, it went completely insane. I was about to give up, when my mother suggested doing the strips separately. Essentially, cutting each strip, folding it over once, sewing it down, and then repeating that process. This is what I ended up doing, and it worked great.

 

The models lounge around on the sofa.

The models lounge around on the sofa.

 

The doublet is made out of eco-felt (a felt made out of recycled bottles), because at the time, which was very early in my garment making (it’s basically the fifth thing I ever sewed), I could not afford anything expensive because the yardage required for something like this is quite a lot.

 

Leporello

Leporello basically makes this image. People love how he is just in the background eating, while everyone else is looking so Fashionable! I think this evokes the nature of the party scene, where musically, Don Giovanni has things to do and Leporello just wants to eat.

I built a new shirt for Leporello. Many years before this big scene image, Jon portrayed Leporello in an image with Donna Elvira. That was back before I was making costumes, and so his shirt is just the most pirate-y looking thing I could buy at a store. I decided to build him a very similar shirt, but with much bigger sleeves, for his return to model for me again.

Damask Pirate Shirt worn by Leporello.

Damask Pirate Shirt worn by Leporello.

The shirt is made out of an awesome rayon-knit damask. I drapes romantically, and I loved the fabric. I have some more, because I bought it all, to make even more fun shirts!

The Damask shirt from the front and back.

The Damask shirt from the front and back.

 

Masked Boy Player – Zani

The boy in the Zani mask, playing the flute, also wears a pirate shirt. This one was 100% rayon, and reveals a lot of the man’s torso. Unlike Leporello’s above, this one can actually close. Each “player” who is entertaining Don G. is based off of a Commedia Character. This flautist is Zani, a character in stock comedy who comes on the scene to do something hilarious whenever the audience looks a little bored.

zani_01

This shirt is just a New Look pattern that I liked to use in my early shirt making exploits. I still like it, but I feel like I need to alter it for a man’s body, because the sleeve and waistline fit a little small.

Jake modeled this shirt in Kismet Magazine, not just to photograph it better!

Jake modeled this shirt in Kismet Magazine, not just to photograph it better!

All the players are given outfits that enhance their sex appeal. When we go over the ladies dresses you will see one emphasizes breasts, on legs and the other hips (hilariously).

white_rayon_pirate_shirt_front

This shirt looks more renaissance than Leporello’s, which is more Pirate.

white_rayon_pirate_shirt_frontback

Stay tuned for the next post, which will feature all the ladies costumes!

And remember to subscribe to this blog, because I’m going to be putting up a lot of costume posts, and you won’t want to miss them!