When I first got the call about what the opera was (Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie), I was intrigued and I was pretty pleased that it was taking place in a more contemporary time (though of course my heart strings pulled faintly, having wanted to do another deeply historical piece). Alas, I agreed to do it and was looking forward to the challenge one of the most unappealing eras of time (to me) in fashion: THE EIGHTIES. 1984 precisely. Luckily I had pinterest to help me gather my thoughts, my mother who was in high school during the 80's to guide me, and goodwills and salvation army's aplenty to raid.
The basic premise of the show is that a man, Joseph DeRocher, and his brother kill a girl and a boy who are making out one night by a lake, and they rape the girl first. He was hopped up on drugs and was out of his mind when this happened. Well, he goes to jail on death row in Louisiana at Angola State Prison. He becomes pen pals with a nun (Sister Helen Prejean) and he eventually gets to meet her and asks her to be his spiritual adviser. Well, their friendship develops and even though he admits that he killed the girl, he is very sorry for it and he hopes that he can be forgiven. She also has an internal struggle about what is right and wrong and if she can truly forgive him.
So, obviously this story doesn't END well, but the journey that the characters take is quite striking, especially you as an audience member realizing what he did, realizing he is facing the guilt but he also deserves a little sentimental mercy. It is quite powerful! I have to admit, i got a little fried watching it 5 times in a row because IT IS EMOTIONAL.
Okay, so more about the costumes. I had around 30 people to costume (a lot of chorus people) and about 50 costumes to gather, buy, or make. I did not think I would use nearly as much of the budget as I DID end up using. Because, dude, that is a LOT of people. A few of the minor characters singers were changing roles up until a few days before dress rehearsal (I KNOW!) so that was a challenge but we all managed just fine and the pictures below are the result. I am just pulling a sampling of the 800 pictures that I have in my file. I will put more under the 'gallery' part on my page for shows I have designed. Toi toi toi!!