The Costume Shop

The Costume Shop

Posted by Opera Gal in Abduction, Costumes, Productions 05 May 2014

The Utah Opera Costume Department is at it again, creating beautiful costumes for the upcoming performance of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. The last production, Turandot, came with its own costumes that our costume department only had to do last minute alterations on. For this production, they have started from scratch.

Osmin, Pedrillo, Belmonte

Preview of unfinished costumes for Abduction from the Seraglio. From left to right: Osmin, Pedrillo, Belmonte

“Everything we are doing for this show is a new build,” Costume Director Patty Campbell says.


There are 7 main steps in building costumes from scratch. The first is finding a designer to draw and design the costumes. This designer has to be very well informed about the production, what clothes looked like in the time period, and what the opera director’s vision is going to be. The designer then creates renderings, artistic drawing of the costumes, to give an overall vision to the looks. Once renderings are approved, the designer creates line drawings (also called technical drawings) of each piece. These technical drawings are incredibly detailed with information for each measurement (how long is the sleeve, how far off the ground does the hem hit, how many buttons go on the back of the dress) and shaping details (is this a bone corset or just a tie, is there a train on the dress, does the coat fall past the knees).


Once these drawings are finalized, the next step is deciding which different types and styles of fabric to use and ordering them. The Costume Department then creates mock ups which are made from low-quality fabric to check the line drawings. Adjustments are made, and these mock ups become the patterns. There is a universal saying to measure twice and cut once. The costume department adheres to this, making sure the mock ups are perfect before doing the final cuts out of the expensive fabric that will be made into costumes. Finally, the costume department stitches together the finished costumes. They use a combination of hand stitching for details and machine stitching for hems and longer lines.

Kostanze's costume unfinished

Abduction from the Seraglio: Preview of Kostanze’s unfinished costume

The main costumes you should look for when you go see Abduction are Konstanze’s bright pink dress (you won’t be able to miss it) and Blonde’s blue dress with the bustles and waves of blue fabric in the back. The heroes of the show, Belmonte and Pedrillo, will be dashing in bright purple and green coats respectively. The persistent Turkish servant Osmin will be in orange, and the Pasha Selim (played by our very own Artistic Director Christopher McBeth) will be wearing a red and gold cape covered in white floral details.

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