Culture Buff

Dress worn by Yvonne Kenny as Armida in Rinaldo

21 January 2017

9:00 AM

21 January 2017

9:00 AM

If you think you haven’t got anything to wear, then Opera Australia may be able to help you. At the end of June they will be auctioning off a huge number of costumes and other bits and pieces from retired productions, that is to say, productions they don’t expect to revive.

The media release announcing the sale is not a model of clarity. Its stated objective is ‘to give the public an opportunity to own a piece of Australia’s artistic heritage’ from this ‘collection of national significance’ that is part of a ‘rich cultural history’. Of course, it will no longer be any of those things once it is sold and dispersed. But I suppose we all have to have a clear-out now and again.


Those who go to the viewing in the last week of June should be prepared for the fact that costumes don’t necessarily look all that good close-up; they are made to be seen from a great distance under very strong lights but they can be fascinating to examine; often extraordinary feats of construction designed to flatter the wearer and trick the eye.

The costume shown above was worn by Yvonne Kenny in Handel’s Rinaldo.

It was designed by Australian-born Michael Wilkinson who was an Oscar nominee in 2013. He designed costumes for the most recent Superman movie. The dress was made by master artisan, John Papadopoulos.

There may well be something there that will make you look like a star.

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