Monday, December 20, 2010

Dickens Fair

Debuted a new costume this year, fresh off the sewing machine at the last minute! Please ignore my daughter's demented hair (green dress). She simply wouldn't go this year unless I agreed to the wig.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Xerxes In Progress

So Xerxes opened a few days ago to critical acclaim (whew!) and I'm faced with some downtime for the holidays.

Then on January 2nd, I get to ramp it up and prep for Carmen, which opens March 5th.
Here's Buffy Baggot, our Carmen, rocking her leather corset and a bullwhip.

Dang, it's been busy! But here's the feedback, so far:

San Francisco Chronicle Review

San Jose Mercury News & Oakland Tribune Review

San Francisco Classical Voice Review

I love opera people!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


More for Anything Goes, at the top we have the gangster girlfriend, the ship's purser in a vintage military uniform, and Hope Harcourt in her day dress with her 'mother', who will soon be wearing foxes slung about her neck and an obnoxious hat.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anything Goes Costumes, round 2

Some try-on photos for Moonface Martin's sharkskin suit, Lord Evelyn's authentic vintage straw boater and plus fours. This is a show for Youth Musical Theater Company, performing at the Julia Morgan Theater in Oakland. I haven't worked with high school students before, but I have to say that these guys are awesome and super professional!

Anything Goes

Some prospective costumes for the amazing cast of AG, opening on October 15th ( my birthday!) at the Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley.

On the left, top to bottom, are Elisha Whitney, Reno in her traveling outfit, Reno in her seduce-Evelyn outfit, and Hope in her wedding dress at the bottom.
Center top is Hope in her DeLovely de-gorgeous gown.
To the right is another possibility for Whitney, Jean & Luc, and Reno in her nightclub outfit for the opening bar scene.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Ringlet

All that I can think of right now are quick changes. You know how you're watching live theater, and the character exits and re-enters seconds later in something completely different? Yeah, well, there's a team of trained people backstage in a timed choreographed dance making that happen. The show I'm costuming now, The Legend of the Ring, is an adaptation of the entire Wagner Ring Cycle. That's over 18 hours of opera lopped to 3.5 hours. Each of the performers plays multiple characters, and they are constantly zipping on and offstage in completely different costumes.
These Rhinemaidens, whom I've reimagined as '50s era prom queens, also double as Fricka, Sieglinde, and Brunnhilde.

Jay Hunter Morris, below center, later took on this role at San Francisco Opera and The Met.
One of his quick-changes is so fast, that we drop the curtain and I run onstage to strip him down to undies and re-dress him. There are 38 seconds of music before the curtain rises. No pressure.

There's a similar onstage change for Valentina Osinski, below right, prior to this scene.
My team and I take her from the prom queen dress to this suit and hairstyle, onstage, in less than a minute before the curtain rises. Here's a better shot of her on the left, with Richard Paul Fink (left) as Wotan, and Marie Plette (right) as Freia.

It's thrilling to work with these world-class singers. If you think they sound amazing from the house, you should try watching a show from backstage sometime!

Monday, June 28, 2010

for your listening pleasure

Diving into the research and costume plot portion of my newest gig as costume designer for YMTC's production of Anything Goes, opening October 15th. This is my second show this year set in the 1930s and I'm really grateful to be able to put on the ritz for this one (see previous efforts at destroying clothing for Great Depression-era opera!).
Concurrently, I'm costuming Legend of the Ring for Berkeley Opera. This one opens end of July and is a bit intimidating! It's a condensed version of Wagner's Ring Cycle. Instead of taking three consecutive nights to tell the story, this version gets it done in one night's worth of intense opera. The singers are absolutely amazing and I can't wait to start rehearsals.

So - Legend of the Ring is July/August, Anything Goes is October, and Xerxes is November. Oh lord, I must be crazy...

In the meantime, enjoy!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jumping Back In!

So after a brief period between shows, I'm jumping back into the costuming insanity.

A photo shoot next week for Berkeley Opera's fall production of Xerxes involves research into historic Turkish medals, which will decorate the costume of Xerxes herself. The story of Xerxes takes place by the Hellespont, which is now known as the Dardanelles, a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey.

In the interest of time it's tempting to just grab a bunch of medals from the Army/Navy surplus store, but out of respect for our military folks - and my retired USMC Colonel father in law specifically - I'm re-creating medals and insignias of the era.

Also, there's The Legend of the Ring, opening July 31st. This modern-day version of the show condenses 18 hours of opera into 3 1/2 hours, enabling it to be performed in one night instead of three nights. The smaller cast has multiple costume changes since eight singers take the place of about 20. I'm working on making Brunhilde have a bit more of a dominatrix-y flavor to her Valkyrie costume with subtle studded and lacing-up elements. I'm currently brainstorming the theme for the Rhine Maidens.

I might also be working on a non-operatic 1930s period musical in October, stay tuned!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Although I'd primarily intended this blog to document some fun costuming processes, I figure I can show off other stuff I make too. Here's a tank I finished knitting recently. I added some ribbon for sexy straps. Thinking I should probably wear something under it also...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Making a creepy-ass doll

This opera, Tender Land, also needed a weathered old rag doll, male, for one of the principal characters. I made this one using coffee-stained muslin and antique thread from the 1930s. It had to look dirty, and have clothing the child could put on and remove. I also embroidered the face, since in all likelihood the characters wouldn't have had two spare buttons for eyes.

How to make your denim look like shit

So, I was lucky enough to source out some overalls that fit the singer and were appropriate for the 1930s, but they were all bright and shiny, and the character was a poor, unwashed Midwest Dustbowl farmer. Out with the power tools! A few hours strategically power sanding and wire-brushing, and the denim, although not faded, did appear a bit more broken in.
Also, I got to have fun with tea-staining garments, for that sepia tone effect.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tech Week Prep

A big day today, I'm reviewing each of 34 costumes on a detailed individual basis for Saturday's premiere of The Tender Land for Berkeley Opera. I'm tea staining fabrics to the correct dingy hue, using power tools to wear down logical pressure points of clothing, and distressing leather shoes. Photos to come!