Opera meets fashion
Prada, Armani, Lacroix, Gaultier, Versace, Dior, Chanel – many of the world’s leading designers have put their creativity to work on costumes for opera, ballet and theatre.
It was only a matter of time then before New Zealand designer Trelise Cooper did likewise.
In March, The NBR New Zealand Opera’s production of Handel’s Xerxes sees Trelise Cooper move from the catwalk to the opera stage.
Trelise, who openly admits to loving the theatre of fashion, has also always loved opera, so designing opera costumes was a natural progression.
‘ ‘ Xerxes has all the drama, romance, intrigue, intense love and yearning passion that makes great opera, so designing the costumes has been heaven for me,’’ she says.
After it was decided to home in on the baroque period in which Xerxes was written, rather than the ancient times ( 400BC) of the titular king, Trelise was given unlimited freedom to go either modern or period.
‘‘I chose to combine the two,’’ she says. ‘ ‘ So there’s a contemporary feel to the garments even though their style is 18th century. What I love most about this collection is that I’ve been able to do embellishment fullon and combine that with beautiful clear colours in garments that have a bold and playful sense of theatre about them.’’
General Director of The NBR New Zealand Opera, Aidan Lang, concurs: ‘‘There’s a real theatricality to Trelise’s fashion collections,’’ he says.
‘‘In a sense, her style and the way she uses fabric and colour is ‘operatic’, and this has definitely shone through in her Xerxes costumes. She’s created a multicoloured opulence that contrasts perfectly with the light palette of designer John Verryt’s beautiful set.’’
Xerxes is a coproduction between The NBR New Zealand Opera and Victorian Opera in Melbourne, in association with Auckland Arts Festival.
It is sung in Italian with English subtitles and opens at The Civic in Auckland on Wednesday 2 March.