It seems that life can present several interesting opportunities when you least expect them...for instance, ahem, I was cast as a background talent in the Canadian Opera Company performing at the Four Seasons Centre Toronto! Hilarious because I don't sing, I just happen to love opera enough to send off my headshot and measurements to the supernumerary department (super what? Supernumerary is la-dee-da talk for background extra/talent in the opera world}. Check out the beautiful architecture of the Four Seasons Centre which has been open only for a couple of years now.
Yeah...lol...somehow my timing was perfect because I received an email asking if I could commit. I was so excited! Yeah!! I love a new adventure. So let's talk shop, let's talk costumes! Allow me to post a few images of the final fitting for the costume I'll be wearing in Mary Stuarda for the course of its run in May. First, allow me to take you behind the scenes at the costume department.
And in I walked...to a beautiful loft-like studio where hems are fixed and skirts bellow...
It's time to get fitted, but a peek into the large central room where all the seamstresses work with silk, golden thread, and Italian lace for the most coveted of opera singers..
Racks of clothes everywhere
The official fitting room for opera stars to background extras. I love the hip mirrors-isn't that a great to steal for your own? The exposed brick, white floating walls, and white floors add to the magic of this space.
And now onto what I'll be wearing...drum roll or better yet cannons fire now (why not be overly dramatic-this is the world of opera!)!!
Don't you love the collar? The costume is made of white silk and is composed of several layers. The first manner in dressing during the Elizabethan era begins with a puffy roll of cloth, which looks like a neck pillow that you'd wear during a long airplane flight. That roll of cloth is placed above the hips to help ease the weight of the dress. After that is in place, a dresser has to assist in lifting a petty-coat layer that has a stay, or a metal hoop, and that stay is what spreads the skirt out from the waist. Finally the top skirt is placed over those garments and the corset is last to be placed on the body. It took some real muscle from the woman to help fasten my corset. She placed one fist under the corset and used the other hand to help tighten and close the corset. Here is a shot from the back to give you an idea of what it looks like...
Ah...yeah I like can hardly breath and all it does is remind me that women subjected their bodies to this daily in ode to fashions and beauty. I'm no angel...look at my collection of high heels, which can be a different sort of torture-but so beautiful! As for shoes, we wear ballet flats with opaque white thigh-high socks.
I love this next shot. There are four women that are supers (background extras) and we were cast as the queen's handmaidens. If you notice the women in the background, these are the heads of departments such as hair, make-up, costume, and more...It was a very important fitting. All of our hems on these dresses were measured to match. So much detail goes into everything when it comes to opera, theater, or film. Viewers might not often think about these details because they are absorbed with the drama playing out, but the viewer always senses the details adding to the illusion.
So what do you think? Are you ready to be a super, too? Check out your local opera house website, visit the job listing website, and who knows...maybe you'll be on stage soon too!!
Better yet, why not grab a copy of the music, because this opera is divine! See if you can find a copy at your local library or check this out at amazon. Or...if you're in town...grab tickets. This Toronto ensemble of opera singers and chorus members are so amazing!! I am hypnotized every time they sing at rehearsal!
I also found this video clip...little somber, actually extremely somber, this is the Act III and the woman singing is about to be beheaded as a political prisoner but also because of the man she loves....I also want have to say that the woman singing in this role may look young, but is sixty. That's what I call a modern woman!