Saturday, 8 March 2014

Part 3 - New York City and Metropolitan Opera Internship Diary

My internship at the Metropolitan Opera Costume Department was one of the best learning experiences I could ask for. The opportunity came at the perfect time for me and I learnt more on this adventure than I could have learnt anywhere else - not just about the running of a costume workshop, but also more personal skills, an understanding of myself, my confidence, values and aspirations. I have developed a definite understanding of where I want to be in the future in terms of my career, and the best way to get there. Seeing the work of fantastic designers who travel across the globe to create beautiful productions was so inspiring and has cemented by desire to become a costume designer, rather than a maker.

I'd love to give an insight into this wonderfully inspiring experience. Although I wasn't able to take my own photos of the workshop and the work I was doing, here are a few photos of the workroom from a NYTimes.com feature. These photos show the making and fittings of Lisette Oropesa's costumes for Nanetta in "Falstaff". Although this opera was not being performed while I was in New York, one of the first projects I was given was to organize the costume bibles for this show, ready to follow the show as it travels. Costume bibles are binders (usually bursting!) full of designs, reference images, fabric swatches and dressing notes. Looking through bibles is an excellent way to get to know a show!

The workroom at the Opera House is divided into three parts - the men's side, ladies' side and production in the middle. I was part of the production section, so it was my role to assist supervisors, assistants, shoppers, stock team. The whole building was bustling and the costume shop in particular was always full of very busy people! The fast pace at which things were done and costumes made was amazing - I will definitely need to keep that in mind next time I make a costume!

Ladies' workroom, photo from Troy Media:

 Every department that makes up the Met Opera, from Scenic Arts to Marketing, is based in the Lincoln Center building. Thousands of people work behind the scenes, over 10 floors just behind the stage itself. Behind the stage door it's like a completely new world, kept secret from the mesmerised audience sat in the house. I felt like a character from my favourite childhood books, hopping from one world to another through a magic door, as I slipped through the disguised doorway to the side of the stage from public auditorium, through a dark passage, finding myself in the huge backstage space. The atmosphere of a theatre is a truly special one - it's that feeling of creating something magical for the audience that I love so much!

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