Anything for a tenor? Royal Opera House to hold costume sale

Suits, gowns and a collection of costumes derided by a critic as like 'an accident in a glam-rock disco' are among items for sale

There will be modern suits from a recent Cosi Fan Tutte; statement evening gowns such as Angelika Kirchschlager's 1930s-style red dress from Pelléas and Mélisande; and, for the adventurous, Juan Diego Flórez's black leather number from Matilde di Shabran.

The Royal Opera House is to stage a sale of more than 1,500 of its costumes from 14 operas and one ballet.

Mal Barton, head of the company's costume workroom, said the sale was necessary because a football pitch-sized warehouse in Aberdare was simply "fit to bursting".

She added: "We have these sales every now and again when we are full because of course we add to our rep every year and we have to clear space."

There will be something for most tastes, whether buyers are looking for medieval fancy dress, a suit for work or a costume that still bears the label of singers such as Kirchschlager, Simon Keenlyside or Gerald Finley.

All the costumes come from what are known as dead productions: they will not be done again or, in the case of Jonathan Miller's Cosi Fan Tutte, must be done in costumes that are of the moment.

The only ballet costumes will be from Natalia Makarova's 2003 The Sleeping Beauty, although do not expect tutus as these are normally refurbished.

The oldest costumes will come from Luchino Visconti's 1958 version of Verdi's Don Carlos, which had Jon Vickers in the title role.

Others come from a Maria Bjornson-designed Katya Kabanova and from Carl Nielsen's Maskarade, in which Marie-Jeanne Lecca's costumes were described by one critic as like "a terrible accident in a glam-rock disco".

Barton said prices would range from as little as £20 for a shirt up to £500 for a full costume, with Flórez's costume as Corradino in Mathilde di Shabran having one of the highest price tags.

Previous sales have been held at the opera house itself and this will be the first at the company's new production workshop in Purfleet, Essex. All money goes into ROH coffers and the sale will be held over the weekend of 24-25 September.


Mark Brown, arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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