by Giacomo Puccini is regarded the world over as a perennial favourite with opera lovers and it’s no wonder: the political thriller is packed with romance and drama, combining the very best of spectacle and sound. In the COC’s signature production of the opera, gorgeous sets and costumes abound, giving audiences plenty to take in as the story unfolds in the Italian capital.
When the production was first built, putting together the lavish costumes for this piece was a huge
undertaking for the creative team. With a number of costume changes throughout, as well as a large chorus, the opera called for total of 117 period costumes. And, even though costumes are designed to be very alterable from season to season, our wardrobe teams are always building new ones with every remount.
It took six costumers and their teams about 14 weeks to hand-create all the costumes, with fabrics sourced from the UK, Germany, France, and New York. To complete the looks, the team also required a dyer, a milliner (hat maker), two boot makers, a belt maker, and a robe manufacturer (for all the legal and religious costumes featured in the opera).
Each creation required between 12 and 32 metres of fabric—and there’s 25 metres of trim on Tosca’s cape, alone, in the second act!
As the production has been staged several times since its premiere, good record-keeping is a must as production staff work to ensure every detail is consistent. As such, the COC is lucky to have some valuable institutional knowledge contained within its wardrobe team – for example, Costume Supervisor Sandra Corazza happened to have been part of the original team that built the Tosca costumes in 2007 when she was a Costume Coordinator. And Natassia Brunato, who served as Costume Assistant for the female chorus in 2017 is now the Costume Coordinator for this production.
Needless to say, laundry presents a special challenge given the amount of blood that makes an appearance in this story. The wardrobe team is constantly testing out new formulas of fake blood to see which one rinses out the easiest after those dramatic moments on-stage.
Of course, there’s nothing like seeing the incredible work behind all of this costume magic, up close and personal!
runs from May 5-27, 2023
at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Tickets are now on sale
Photos from top to bottom: Details on one of Tosca’s dresses in the opera (photo by: COC); Adrianne Pieczonka as Tosca (foreground) with (l – r, background) Mark Delavan as Scarpia and David Cangelosi as Spoletta in the Canadian Opera Company’s 2012 production of Tosca (photo by: Michael Cooper); Mark Delavan as Scarpia (downstage, left) in a scene from the Canadian Opera Company’s 2012 production of Tosca (photo by: Michael Cooper); Original costume sketches by Kevin Knight from the Canadian Opera Company’s 2008 production of Tosca; L-R: Bonnets and other hats for the Tosca chorus, one of the COC’s costume team working on a new dress for the production; L-R: Tosca costumes on display in the Canadian Opera Company Theatre (photo by Gaetz Photography), Julie Mackerov as Tosca in the Canadian Opera Company’s 2012 production of Tosca (photo by: Chris Hutcheson); COC Costume Supervisor Sandra Corazza with costumes from Tosca (photo by: COC); Carlo Ventre as Cavaradossi in the Canadian Opera Company’s 2012 production of Tosca (photo by: Michael Cooper).