Dressed to trill

Pasatiempo - - Mixed Media -

You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you know an opera diva when you see one be­cause of her dress. The phe­nom­e­non of the diva orig­i­nated in the 19th cen­tury, when fe­male singers be­gan to usurp the cas­trati in pop­u­lar­ity. They chose and owned their own glam­orous cos­tumes, which in the eyes of their fans be­came nearly as im­por­tant as their sing­ing.

Over the years, the world’s lead­ing de­sign­ers have cre­ated fancy frocks for the di­vas of the Santa Fe Opera — in­clud­ing Su­san Gra­ham, Anna Christy, Pa­tri­cia Racette, Natalie Des­say, Ana María Martínez, Su­sanna Phillips, and Con­stance Hau­man. At a spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion at the Mesa Pub­lic Li­brary (2400 Cen­tral Ave.) in Los Alamos, you can ad­mire these cre­ations — each of which was crafted un­der the watch­ful eye of cos­tume di­rec­tor David Burke. Di­vas and Dresses opens Tues­day, Nov. 9; from 5 to 7 p.m., the Los Alamos Opera Guild hosts a re­cep­tion. The ex­hibit, which runs through Dec. 30, is open and free to the pub­lic dur­ing reg­u­lar li­brary hours. Call 662-8253 for de­tails.

Su­sanna Phillips in The Mar­riage of Fi­garo; cour­tesy Santa Fe Opera

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