So, I work for an opera company, as a cutter/draper, which means it's my responsibility to make the patterns and cut out the costumes for the female characters in the shows.
It's a behind the scenes job, obviously, and unless an audience member really knows what they are looking at, my job doesn't often get noticed. This is as it should be, because as a costumer, my work is not meant to be the focal point of a show, it is meant to support the overall spectacle and concept of the show.
However, once in a while, those of us who are backstage get to show off what we do in a more specific sense.
Right now, we are in the last couple of weeks of the build for Madame Butterfly, an extremely popular Puccini opera. This show is being built completely new. There are approximately 30 people in this particular cast, and with the multiple costumes on some characters, it equals out to around 40 costumes. My particular responsibility includes about 100 pieces, kimonos, under kimonos and obis, as well as myriad smaller bits.
This has been a slightly more difficult build for me than some of the others, because, while I am well versed in period western women's wear, I am not so much in Japanese kimono. This show has required rather more research than I generally have to do. There is a lot of symbolism in kimono and obi, and when one is trying to portray things as accurately as possible (with obvious licence for theatre) one needs to be aware of this symbolism. Not only that, but I know what proportions should be for western women's fashion, I know how much fullness and how much ease is needed or wanted, depending on the period of history I'm doing. I don't have that automatic knowledge about Japanese clothing.
In addition to all of this, we didn't start the show with fabrics ready to cut. Everything had to be painted and dyed before it could be made into kimono. Our crafts technician is amazing and painting/dyeing is her forte. We started with white silk and ended with the most vibrantly beautiful hand painted kimonos we've ever had.
And, as I was saying before, sometimes we get to be in front of the camera (literally and figuratively) to show people just what it is we do. For some reason, this show has been particularly popular, publicity-wise and we have been interviewed by Salt Lake Magazine, Fox 13 News and the Salt Lake Tribune. It's been fun to show off a little, but I think we'll all be happy when we can get back to being backstage, working our magic.
In the meantime, here's a few pics of said magic.