La Stupenda’s spectacular original costumes are on display in London’s Royal Opera House.
Costumes, headdresses and jewellery worn by Dame Joan Sutherland in productions at Covent Garden are on display as part of a new exhibition at the opera house.
The selection spans one of her earliest ROH appearances in 1952 (as Clotilde in Norma,with Maria Callas in the title role) to her last full-length production at Covent Garden, Donizetti’s Anna Bolenain 1988 .
Sutherland started out with the company in 1952 on a salary of £10 a week. It wasn’t until Franco Zeffirelli cast her as Lucia di Lammermoor in 1959 that she was rocketed to fame and in demand the world over; Covent Garden, however, always remained close to her heart.
Several Zeffirelli costumes, including the lavish dress designed for La Traviata, are featured in the exhibition. The Royal Opera House’s Exhibitions and Heritage Publications Manager, Cristina Franchi, describes Sutherland’s work with the director as “a very happy partnership.”
“He realised that she felt physically unconfident,” Franchi told BBC News, “so he designed her costumes to really make her look beautiful.”
Other costume designers whose work for Sutherland is on display include...