For the first time in 60 years, the costumes, accessories, artwork, and memorabilia from the vaults of Opera Australia will be opened to the public.

Sigrid Thornton performs in A Little Night Music. Image by Jeff Busby

Sigrid Thornton performs in A Little Night Music. Image by Jeff Busby

Did you know Opera Australia employs twenty machinists, six cutters, four wig makers and one milliner in their wardrobe department? 

As we have come to know here at Music Love, Opera is definitely not just a singing style. Not only does a tremendous amount of preparation go into learning a new language and a very long and detailed script for a performance (see our profiles on Jacqui Dark and Emma Matthews), there is a monumental amount of work spent on very elaborate costumes adorned by the talented performers who grace the stage.

 

Opera Australia employs twenty machinists, six cutters, four wig makes and one milliner in their wardrobe department. Productions require thousands of metres of fabric to make the vibrant, ornate and very heavy costumes that audiences witness night after night at the opera. Not only that, each wig uses around 120 grams of human hair, and in the space of twelve months the company will use 20,000 buttons.

Cheryl Barker AO, Image via Opera Australia

Cheryl Barker AO, Image via Opera Australia

These costumes are often damaged during performances, requiring frequent repairs. Once the costume is retired, it is cared for meticulously. Each item is dated and labelled with the name of the production it is from, and is then catalogued and stored in Opera Australia facilities. Until now. Opera Australia is finally making it possible for all of us to fully appreciate these costumes. For the first time in 60 years the costumes, accessories, artwork and memorabilia from the vaults of Opera Australia will be opened to the public.

In the space of twelve months the company will use 20,000 buttons.
Sigird Thornton performs in A Little Night Music. Image via The Age

Sigird Thornton performs in A Little Night Music. Image via The Age

Many of the costumes and memorabilia come from productions featuring influential female artists. Costumes worn by Australian soprano Yvonne Kenny OA, lauded Australian performer and singer Cheryl Barker OA in her role as Lauretta in the 2007 production of Gianni Schicchi, as well as Australian actress and opera performer, Sigrid Thronton, from her role as Desirée in the 2009 production of A Little Night Music are also being auctioned. Fans will be able to admire and even buy costumes from classics such as Rinaldo, The Gypsy Princess, The Merry Widow and even Baz Luhrmann’s 1990 hit La Bohème.

 

Opera Australia says “You won’t find artistry like this at any gallery." Indeed. Make sure you check it out. 

The collection will be available for viewing in an exhibition at the Opera Centre, Surry Hills, from Saturday June 24 through to Thursday June 29 2017. The auction will take place Friday 30 June and Saturday 1 July 2017.

For more information head to Opera Australia.

Some of the opera costumes available for auction

Some of the opera costumes available for auction