Opera Australia’s 60th anniversary costume and memorabilia exhibition and auction

Opera Australia Costume AuctionOpera Australia is diving into sixty years of costumes, accessories, artworks and memorabilia in an anniversary exhibition at The Opera Centre in Surry Hills. The week-long event will culminate in an auction where the public can bid for an exclusive piece of Australia’s operatic story.

This is the first time Opera Australia has opened its vaults to give thousands of opera fans the opportunity to get up close to over 2,000 items costumes, accessories, artworks and memorabilia worn and inspired by their idols. Highlights of the exhibition and auction include:

  • Costumes from Baz Luhrmann’s famous 1990 production of La Bohème;
  • Dame Kiri Te Kanawa ONZ DBE AC’s costume for the role as ‘Violetta’ in the 1978 production of La Traviata;
  • Yvonne Kenny AM’s costume for the roles of ‘Sylva Varescu’ in the 2001 production of The Gypsy;
  • Princess, ‘Hanna’ in the 2004 production of The Merry Widow and ‘Armida’ in the 1999 production of Rinaldo;
  • Sigrid Thornton’s costume for the role of Desirée in 2009 production of A Little Night Music;
  • Dame Heather Begg DNZM OBE’s costume for the role of ‘The Countess Di Coigny’ in the 2001 production of Andrea Chénier; and
  • Cheryl Barker AO’s costume for the role of ‘Lauretta’ in 2007 production of Gianni Schicchi.

Opera Australia CEO Craig Hassall explained the motivation behind the historic move. “Over the past sixty years Opera Australia has amassed an incredible collection of costumes and props, many that are now well overdue for retirement but are far more deserving than remaining in storage boxes, never to see the light of day,” said Mr Hassell.

“We know that collectors, not only from Australia but all around the world, would be thrilled to acquire some of these rare gems, so we thought it was time to share the collection with those who’ll value it as much as we do.”

Meticulously hand-crafted by teams of artisans over the years, custom-designed pieces from OA’s expansive wardrobe are expected to be the most sought after items. All individually designed for their specific productions, each piece will be labelled with its providence, the name of the opera and the performer it was made for.

Recognised as a collection of national significance, the thousands of costumes, accessories and artworks have been assessed, valued and catalogued by textile and memorabilia experts from renowned auction house Leonard Joel.

The display and auction will take place at Opera Australia’s headquarters in Sydney’s Surry Hills where most of the items were painstakingly created over the years. The public will be able to view the costumes from Saturday 24 June, with the auction set to take place on Friday 30 June and Saturday 1 July 2017. For more information, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Images: (L – R) Costume for Desirée in Opera Australia’s 2009 production of A Little Night Music (Sondheim). Worn by Sigrid Thornton – designed by Roger Kirk. This costume is constructed from purple taffeta in three pieces, including a bodice, skirt and petticoat in the Edwardian style. It features pleated sleeves with black lace trim and heavy embellishments to the bodice and skirt using sequins, beads and braid.

Costume for ‘Madonna’ in Opera Australia’s 2007 production of Suor Angelica (Puccini). Worn by Amy Campbell – designed by Desmond Digby. This embellished brocade gown is constructed in two pieces in the Elizabethan style and features an elaborate ruffle collar, trunk sleeves trimmed with grosgrain, lace and faux pearls, a bodice and skirt decorated with floral and bow embellishments finished with faux stones. It is accompanied by a sun shaped gilt halo supported by a concealed harness, all over a heavy weight quilted crinoline.

Costume for ‘Sylva Varescu’ in Opera Australia’s 2001 production of The Gypsy Princess (Kálmán). Worn by Yvonne Kenny AM – designed by Roger Kirk. This costume is constructed in the Edwardian style from red velvet, with sequin embellishment and ostrich feather trim, jewels and a matching hat.