Peer Inside L.A. Opera’s Bustling Costume Shop

Long before the first note is sung, the L.A. Opera costume shop brings to life a production’s historic, mythological, or spiritual realms. This month’s <em>The Ghosts of Versailles</em> is its grandest project yet

The staging of John Corigliano and William Hoffman’s The Ghosts of Versailles is so daunting—scores of performers, an opera within an opera, the rendering of a spirit world—that it has been done in its entirety only twice since it was commissioned by the Met in 1980. From February 7 through March 1, L.A. Opera takes on the spectacle; for the past ten months its costume shop has shouldered the production of outfits for 83 singers, dancers, aerialists, and other supernumeraries tasked with enacting the story of Marie Antoinette in the afterlife. The production is one of 11 that L.A. Opera, which was founded in 1984, is staging this season. Though its shows take place at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the most bustling behind-the-scenes action can often be found a mile away in the 31,000-square-foot complex that houses the opera’s costume shop. For The Ghosts of Versailles alone, more than 35 drapers, cutters, and tailors artfully pieced together the ensembles by Tony Award-winning costume designer Linda Cho. “There are four distinct worlds in this production,” she says. “The black-and-white world of the ghosts; the saturated, glittering warm colors of the exotic Turkish harem; the dreary dirty browns and grays of the French Revolutionary rabble; and the cool blues and greens of Figaro’s world, inspired by a French rococo garden painting.” For a glimpse into the fertile mind of Cho, the opera company gave us backstage access to see her work in detail.

Watch the slide show



PLUS: Go behind the scenes of our photo shoot


This featured originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Los Angeles magazine.