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“Te role of the countess is a really
good role,” says Barstow. “She was clearly
a woman of great stature and beauty back
in her day and the costumes, which are
incredibly glamorous, refect the power
she had. I have so many diferent
costumes, they are fantastic – I think
every time I come back on stage I am
wearing something diferent!”
Te whole cast’s costumes are
made to measure and designed to ft
the criteria that they’re ‘comfortable,
practical, ft for purpose and durable’,
says Rodwell – he doesn’t need to add
that they also have to look great. Te
head of costume looks after the costume
department as well as makeup and wigs
(‘the idea being that we’re all working
on the same thing, the human fgure,
head to foot’) and has been in the role
for 10 years.
“I work with the designers who
design the costumes,” he says. “My job
is to help interpret their creative vision.
So we have to decide collectively how
we’re going to make the costumes, what
we’re going to make them from, the
number of costumes that are required,
how much they’re going to cost, the
right people to make them and ensure
that they are durable and practical, safe
and appropriate.”
Rodwell’s job is particularly
important at Opera North.Te company
is known for taking a fresh approach to
their performances, often bringing in
directors who look to be innovative in
their productions, staging and costumes.
Recent performances have included
taking the Spanish
from Seville
in Spain to a small mid-west town in the
US of the same name, a UK premiere
production of
Te Portrait
which skips
across a multitude of decades over two
and half hours and an adaptation of
Beethoven’s 1814 opera
set in a
modern-day prison.
While they’re known for moving
operas through times and continents, the
current production of
Queen of Spades
requires the costume team to stay true
to the opera’s original setting. “It’s about
creating a specifc world,” Rodwell says.
“It’s a society in Russia in a particular
period. Te costumes also have to say
something about the character and the
situations that they fnd themselves in.