Creating & Operating LA BOHÈME Costumes with MARY SEASLY


Earlier than final week’s last gown rehearsal of La bohème I used to be in a position to examine in with longtime Seattle Opera workers member Mary Seasly (left, photograph by Philip Newton), who works these performances as Mimì’s Wardrobe Attendant. However way back, Mary additionally labored on the group that created these now-iconic La bohème costumes. She informed me a bit of about her work each then and now, and a bit of in regards to the legendary designer Martin Pakledinaz.

Mary Seasly exterior Mimì’s dressing room
Philip Newton, photograph

Mary, what’s the distinction between engaged on the Costume crew and the Wardrobe crew?

Totally different talent set in lots of instances. The Costume crew is a gaggle of artisans which have abilities in constructing, becoming, altering costumes; tailoring, dress-making and all issues in between: millinery work [hats]; and there’s usually some footwear that must be modified or constructed, relying on the manufacturing.

And Wardrobe?

We’re engineers. We make the costumes work for the manufacturing. That generally includes particular rigging, if there’s a quick-change…as we go ahead within the rehearsal course of you usually discover out these little particular issues.

So it’s Utilized Costuming; getting the costumes on this specific group of individuals, for this staging of the present.

Proper. And along with getting the costumes on and off we assist the performers of their efficiency: getting them dressed on time, ensuring they’re comfy, ensuring they’ve water or no matter they want for his or her vocal manufacturing. (Typically that’s little candies or mints or one thing like that.)

It’s an intimate collaboration: you’re within the dressing rooms with them, kind of their floor crew.

That’s true. We’re there for them, for no matter comes up.

You’re working Wardrobe now; however you additionally labored on the Costume Store when these superb La bohème costumes have been first created.

Thirty years in the past! Summer season of 1991, I used to be a cog within the wheel of constructing these beautiful costumes. It was an enormous crew, with many artisans from totally different theaters in Seattle.

What was it wish to work within the Costume Store in these days? They have been over within the constructing that’s now the Armory, in these days the “Meals Circus…”

They known as it the “Heart Home.” We had plenty of area up there on the Fourth Ground. It was an previous Twenties-30s constructing with out air con, so the home windows can be extensive open within the summertime, and we’d hear all of the sounds of everyone having fun with the Enjoyable Forest at Seattle Heart.

Within the story of La bohème Mimì is a seamstress…feels like the place she would go to work.

Precisely. She might need been constructing her personal little pink hat. It was an awesome group, well-managed by some longtime workers of Seattle Opera. We have been break up between dress-makers and tailors, producing the ladies’s clothes and the boys’s clothes.

Brandie Sutton in Musetta’s Act 2 Costume
Philip Newton, photograph

Musetta’s large yellow gown is iconic for this manufacturing of Bohème; however the guys look very sensible, too.

Glad to listen to that, we labored diligently. It was a sizzling summer season and we have been working with all these wools and velvets. Martin’s designs have been fantastically particular to the period. There was not a element that was missed. The lads’s coats, vests, and trousers all have fully-functioning pockets. Typically in costumes one thing seems purposeful but it surely’s not. However Martin required the actual factor.

The selection was made to set the opera within the Nineties, across the time of composition. Which isn’t truly when the guide takes place…the guide is fifty years earlier.

Proper, but it surely works superbly.

Martin Pakledinaz designed costumes for lots of nice Seattle Opera productions through the years: Orpheus and Eurydice, Lohengrin, Iphigeníe en Tauride and the Ring cycle.

He was a pleasure to work with. Not at all times simple! However simply impeccable designs. And thirty years later, we’re presenting them once more, they usually nonetheless stand.

Is it uncommon, for costumes to have that longevity?

This manufacturing has been used regularly by Seattle Opera, and rented out to different corporations. There’s been plenty of upkeep, cheers to the Seattle Opera Wardrobe and Costume Retailers for that. And it’s simply as attractive as I keep in mind it.

Do you’ve a favourite garment within the present?

I’m very keen on Rodolfo’s coats…however that little pink hat!

La cuffietta, the bonnet Rodolfo buys for Mimì!

There’s such a tenderness to what it represents. I believe it’s a stunning little piece.

Elizabeth Caballero as Mimì and Francesco Demuro as Rodolfo keep in mind when he purchased her that pink bonnet in Seattle Opera’s 2013 La bohème
Elise Bakketun, photograph

It’s so distinct, it stands proud, you may’t miss it. And also you get why somebody would turn out to be fixated on it.

Why she would have it on her deathbed.

Is there something uncommon about your particular Wardrobe duties for this Bohème?

All of us in Wardrobe, our performers and everyone right here within the theater, we’re all serving to one another on this age of COVID.

The singers exit onstage unmasked; however is everyone masked, backstage?

We’ve a complete protocol of when the singers put their masks on, how they take it off, the place they put it after they take it off…we use little Tupperware containers, clearly labeled with every singer’s title. The performer is accountable for dealing with their very own masks, in fact. Earlier than they step onstage, it goes into the lidded container, and that’s reversed after they exit the stage and are available again to their dressing room.

You guys have thought every part via!

We attempt.



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