Opera meets fashion

North Harbour News - - NEWS -

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.

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