Operafantomet: phantoming

Restaged tour costume rant #2: 

What annoys me the most about the restaged tour is how much time and money was spent on remodeling beautiful, existing costumes, by picking bodices and skirts apart, and/or removing all decorations. The main result is that the costumes ends up looking unfinished and sometimes cheap. And this has taken A LOT OF MONEY to achieve. And they want us to bow and applaud their amazing tour wardrobe. Yes, it WAS amazing. Was. Before you attacked it with scissors. 

Take the Carlotta’s Notes/Managers dresses. They removed all the piping decorations on the bodice and skirt - a faint imprint can still be seen in the crimson velvet on the red dress. The red dress is now also used in the first act instead of the second act, and the b/w in the second act, in what appears to be change for the sake of change. This doesn’t add anything to the character of Carlotta. In fact, they remove an important feature of these dresses - such piping was inspired by soldier uniforms, and tells us that Carlotta is ready for battle. It’s not by accident both her first and second act manager’s dress has this kind of decoration. Without it Carlotta can of course still be feisty, but the immediate visual hint is gone. 

The Masquerade costumes is another story. The ornate, allegorical costumes were stripped down and remodeled, to become more streamlined ballroom creations. For this they HAD a specific idea. But why then insisting on using Maria Bjørnson’s creations, and call them hers, when it’s not what she designed and not what they wanted? Why not use for example the Don Juan Rehearsal Victorian costumes with masks and cloaks? It would have made more sense. And it would have hurt less. AND it would have been cheaper yet looked way more classy.

There’s also more tongue-in-cheek changes, like transforming Masquerade’s Monkey Girl into Satyr pants for the Il Muto ballet. I don’t really mind this one. It’s amusing more than anything. 

But overall, the changes done to the originally very ornate costumes must have cost them quite a bit. And ironically, the costumes ended up looking cheaper, and has lost a lot of symbolism. I really don’t understand the philosophy behind it. With as detailed sketches Maria Bjørnson made for each costume, often showing both front and back and the specific accessories, it’s definitely not a matter of having “misunderstood” her instructions or that they "found designs in her archive that she created for the original and never used" (quote Cameron Mackintosh). 

I’m sure these costumes works fine on stage. But when you call them Maria Bjørnson’s design and intentionally spent a lot of money to make them less like her design, I’m not gonna applaud and say the costumes are SPECTACULAR. 

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