Art Work of the Month November 2010

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For many years, I have not only designed stage costumes but I have also executed them myself. My first big contract in this field were the costumes for both the soloists and the chorus for the French comic opera "L'Etoile" ("The Star") by Emmanuel Chabrier for the Metz Opera House (France). I tailored the 80 costumes myself with the help of a Japanese assistant who previously had not so much as even sewn a button on a shirt. There was very little time: we had exactly 7 weeks from the beginning of the designing process and the buying of the material until putting on the finishing touches just before opening night. The entire production was supposed to have an air of a children's book, of a fairy tale, therefore the naive orientalizing look of the clothes and hats. I enjoyed tremendously being allowed to handle the sensuous and wonderfully colored panels of cloth, but only someone who has ever done this kind of work knows just how time consuming and physically exhausting it actually is to do this seemingly lightly-elegant activity.

This took place at a time when artist's fees were still astronomical (and not only those of the big stars), therefore the salaries I received from the contracts as a costume designer in French theatres during this period paid for my singing education with the wonderful Mozart singer, Prof. Maria Stader (actually "ex-singer", as she had already retired from the concert halls).