November 7, 2012

Period Corsets® at the Metropolitan Opera in "The Tempest"

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Over the years Period Corsets® has had the priviledge of collaborating with The Metropolitan Opera on several artistically challenging and innovative projects. This year we were delighted to work with them on "The Tempest" a new Robert LePage World Premiere.The costume designer for this international endeavor was Kym Barrett.  The opera was a co-prodution, being built in tandem with Opera Festival de Quebec.  Period Corsets part was to make corsets and petticoats for each singer in the cast. Making one set of costumes to fit two casts of singers, for Quebec and the Met was quite challenging.  The required head scratching  and  perusing of measurement charts was well worth it! This time our corsets would not be undercover but showcased as the central element of the design.

Photo: The Metropolitan Opera
 As with many of our custom projects, we started  our design discussion with creating a prototype.  We sent two mock-ups (see below) to the Met team for their input. The finished corsets were required to be customized to each individual Met performer's measurements and alterable to their counterpart in Quebec.  To accommodate as much flexibility as possible we added another alteration point at the center back to allow 6 inches extra to work with.  Ms. Barrett started with our basic c. 1860 Julia Corset shape.
Period Corsets Julia corset with the
designer's changes and primary research

As you can see on the left, the designer wanted more fullness in the bust with added bust gussets. We made two styles; they chose the style which required under-wires. Bust cups! 60 sets of bust measurements! We came up with an elaborate system  to accommodate so many varying shapes. That 6 inches of alter-ability plus the lacing in the back came in very handy.  No two women's shapes are exactly the same.

photo: Period Corsets mock-ups for The Tempest corset

photo: Period Corsets
 The final corsets were made in brilliantly  liquid linen fabrics glazed with either copper, silver or gold.  Select members of the cast's corsets were made in custom dyed chenille with glittering metallic patterns.

photo: Period Corsets

The costumes each had a custom five ruffle petticoat made in ivory taffeta. It seemed like miles of ruffles! The cast wore them in the first half of the perfomance. They were rigged to be easily taken off for a quick change in to the slimmer  silhouette in the second half.

Photo: Period Corsets

Here they are! Our corsets and petticoats are under the lights in performance at the Metropoliatn Opera.  These  production stills  are from The Tempest.

Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera

For more photos click here
 For  video click here

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