If you've glanced at the production photos of Semele you've seen that the costumes are very sumptuous, making use of bold colours, large billowing shapes, and intricate patterns. Often, particularly for the mortal characters, the costumes combine 16th-century European silhouettes with Chinese fabric designs. The costume for Athamas, Semele's betrothed (before she runs away to become the mistress of the god Jupiter) is an excellent example. The distinctive 16th-century "pumpkin pants" and doublet are made out of elaborately-patterned green and gold silk.
In these photos you can see countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo being fitted for the costume. The strips of ornate silk that make the costume so eye-catching are layered on top of a much plainer black base – this photo gives you the "before" and "after" at once (notice the single strip of fabric on the floor, waiting to be pinned).
Here's a closer look, this time with a neck ruff...
...and this time with cap and accessories.
Costume co-ordinator Ren Cahill also showed off the stunning blue gown for Ino.
This is part of the costume for Jupiter, and it's appropriately godly.
All the costumes are by designer Han Feng, who oversaw the fitting. She has made her mark in the fashion world with a studio in Shanghai and a boutique in New York. Her credits as a costume designer include Anthony Minghella's famous production of Madama Butterfly for the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera's The Bonesetter's Daughter.
Posted by Cecily Carver / in Semele / comments (0) / permalink
[This is part of a series profiling the artists making their COC debuts in the 2011/2012 season]
"I want it to be 70 per cent beautiful, 15 per cent surrealistically beautiful, and the rest so beautiful that nobody can bear it." – Zhang Huan on Semele
Name: Zhang Huan
Practice: Visual and performance artist
Where he's from: An Yang City, He Nan Province, China
What he's directing: He'll be directing Handel's Semele, at the COC from May 9 to 26.
Where he's been: Semele is the first opera he's directed. As a visual and performance artist, he's had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Max Protetch Gallery, New York; Galerie Albert Benamou, Paris; Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai; Haunch of Venison, London and Zurich; and the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery here in Toronto, among others.
Watch and Listen
From the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, an interview with Zhang Huan (the interview starts approximately 10 minutes into the video):
Here's a video preview of Semele from its premiere at Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels.
This video shows many of Zhang Huan's best-known sculptural, photographic and performance works.
Photo: Zhang Huan
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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001