What do you do if you are going to the opera at none other than the Royal Opera House in London? You pull out all stops on the outfit front of course! Between London Fashion Week and the recent flamenco festival I've had a chance to crack out some more outlandish outfits. However a night out with Mr V. seeing one of our favourite operas, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), calls for an extra special effort.
This marked the debut outing of my Wheels and Doll Baby tutu! I also couldn't pass up a more perfect opportunity to get my coat tails out again. I originally wanted to channel Papagena and wear my Topshop feather coat but I found the cut of this coat was better in that it allowed my tutu to peek out cheekily between the cutaway front. However as you'll see I did manage to find a way to work some feathers!
I have always loved the opera, in particular the works of Mozart. The Magic Flute was the first opera I ever went to see as a wide eyed teenager with my sister and friends on a five dollar student discount and I remember we got dolled up to the nines for the occasion.
Last night was the third time I had seen it and I was very excited about seeing this version which would mark the first time hearing it sung live in the original German. Not that I can speak German to save my life but I remember listening to the German version on endless repeat as a young woman and I know the melodies of all the arias off by heart with every note and intonation sung in that language. It makes a difference!
Even though we had already seen it once together, when considering an opera to book this season Mr V and I chose Die Zauberflöte as a video preview on the Royal Opera House website showed an amazing set and costumes to die for. It didn't disappoint! The third time around it was still as thrilling, emotional and funny as the first time. There is good reason why people still listen to Mozart after more than two centuries!
Penny Dreadful has done a wonderful post complete with photos on the opera's costumes which were truly superb, especially that of the Queen of the Night, who was resplendent in metres and metres of sparkling diaphanous tulle. There was also some rather wonderful use of puppetry and contemporary dance throughout which made the production quite unique.
Thankfully it has warmed up in London lately so I was able to substitute my normal layers of wool knitwear for something a little more glamorous. What better to embrace your inner Papagena than a vintage marabou bolero! Perfect for keeping the chill at bay in the lofty heights of the amphitheatre!
The shoes weren't exactly what I originally had in mind but I ran out of time getting ready and they were the only dressy pair to hand before I had to dash out to get the tube - in ballet flats mind, the heels went in my bag and I changed when I got to the Royal Opera House. These shoes are from the late Alexander McQueen's last ready-to-wear collection and I found them at the Harrod's sale marked down by seventy percent on a day they were having an additional ten percent off sale items. It would have been criminal to leave them there! They scored a compliment from a lady whilst I was sitting in the foyer waiting for Mr V. to arrive.
The only thing that left me a little disappointed in an otherwise faultless production were the costumes of Papageno and Papagena. I always look forward to the extravagance and fantastical beastliness of these two characters who are more often than not dressed in wonderful feathery confections. As you may know by now I am more than a little partial to feathers! While the rest of the cast were dressed in sumptuous eighteenth century opulence, Papageno and Papagena were uncomfortably propelled into the twentieth century by way of their modern costumes. Papageno was in a bland khaki suit with a stuffed duck stapled to his hat and Papagena was dressed in a leather miniskirt, skin tight top and white stiletto heels for her final appearance. I was a tad underwhelmed.
My favourite version of the Papegano/Papagena couple appeared in the English National Opera's production which Mr V. and I saw about ten years ago. Papageno was played by the handsome baritone Leigh Melrose, who also happened to attend the same University college as Mr V, and who was decked out in a beautiful feathered jacket, feathered breeches and an amazing feathered headdress with a giant beak. His interpretation of the character was so endearing and charming that in the scene where Papageno consults with the audience as to whether he should end it all as there is nobody to love him, he actually had ladies pleading with him not to hang himself. For the grand finale Papegana descended in a giant birds nest from above, a vision of star studded plumage in a stunning voluminous white gown covered in crystals and feathers. So much more memorable!
The corset I wore underneath has its own operatic stage story. I bought it years ago on sale and it remained in my wardrobe unworn for several years afterward until I had to play the role of Bizet's Carmen in a flamenco version of the fight scene for a flamenco show. But last night marked its first night out offstage so to speak, dressing a member of the audience.
You would think that people in London would dress up more to go to the opera or the theatre but I've been very surprised to find that most of them don't. I have to say I did get eyeballed a bit by other ladies on the tube and in attendance at the opera, probably because they thought I was way over the top in what I was wearing. I think it is a bit sad that apart from those going out to fancy nightclubs people don't seem to make the most of opportunities to get dressed up anymore. Sometimes I wonder where all the people who like to dress up go in London.
Despite that I thoroughly recommend a night at the opera in London. We really enjoyed the performance and even treated ourselves to a glass of champagne in the interval. If you book ahead you can get inexpensive tickets with great views and even though we weren't sitting in expensive seats I wasn't going to let that stop me from having fun getting dressed up for the occasion. Surely the opera is the place to do it and after all, every gal living in a big city needs her Carrie Bradshaw moment in a tutu!
Marabou feather bolero, Vintage to Vogue; Corset, Karen Millen; Tutu, Wheels and Doll Baby; Coat, Just Cavalli; Shoes, Alexander McQueen; Necklace, Banana Republic, Brooch on Coat, Vintage