Thursday, October 8, 2009

Is This A Joke?

I read on the Opera Tattler blog that Los Angeles Opera and San Francisco Opera are both holding sales of costumes from their costume shops in anticipation of the Halloween season. Those of us who want to dress up for our parties as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto now have the opportunity to do so because they are liquidating 2,500 costumes from their collection. Is it safe to assume that both of these institutions are attempting to earn some extra revenue when it is in short supply for arts companies? Common sense dictates that my answer be yes since the only logical alternative response is that the companies are benevolent to commoners and have an excess of costumes, and that is not a very plausible explanation. The costumes available are mainly things worn by chorus members, but for the collector who has extra capital to spend since these will likely sell for a good amount considering the information I am about to provide, there are also costumes worn by sopranos Carol Vaness and Karita Mattila, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore, who is the most recorded mezzo-soprano of all time, and tenor Placido Domingo. In addition to all of the complete costumes, they are also selling individual accesory pieces such as hats, shoes, and scarves.

According to the press release of the Los Angeles Opera, all of these costumes are of the most excellent quality since the costume shop employs dozens of master crafters in every field related to creating costumes. Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that prospective customers need not worry about finding something that will fit them because they have costumes made to fit everyone from "robust Wagnerians to petite Mozartians." Apparently they are helping to advance stereotypes of singers. I wonder if there shall be any horned helmets and spears for sale? Next time around they may start auctioning James Conlon's batons and singers' scores. I think that such would be a more practical sale.

Thank you for reading this post, and I hope that you found this as anecdotal as I did.



chelsea said...

WNO is also doing a costume sale next weekend. Yes the money is an added benefit, but their Costume Studio has simply run out of space so they're selling costumes from productions that they have no intention of remounting or renting. Most notable amongst WNO's stash is a Lucia dress worn by RA Swenson.

Tyler said...


Thanks for the inside perspective. I suppose I ought to have thought of that reason for the sale since I am employed by a local community theatre, and we frequently have such a problem as you describe plagues WNO. Forgive me if I was a little harsh against the concept.

Since the other point of my post was to highlight the singers who had previously attired themselves in these garments, and because you inform me that WNO possesses a dress from a production of Lucia worn by Ruth Ann Swenson, I think these costumes beg the question of how much these more famous articles would fetch on eBay? Perhaps there shall one day be a museum devoted to opera productions or to opera itself where companies could send their famous pieces for exhibits and such.

It is good to hear from you, and I hope you are enjoying yourself with your occupation.