The Art Behind Arizona Opera's Dramatic Costumes

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Thursday, August 16, 2018 - 2:01pm
Updated: Friday, August 17, 2018 - 8:43am

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Kathleen Trott
Jackie Hai/KJZZ
Kathleen Trott in the costume shop she manages at Arizona Opera.

The opera is grand, beautiful and, of course, dramatic — and so are the costumes that help tell those classic stories.

Designing for an opera is an exercise in historical research, pattern-making and artistic license. And, for Arizona Opera costume designer Kathleen Trott, it’s a creative endeavor.

The Show recently got to go behind the scenes in her costume shop at the Arizona Opera to see how it all works, and was met by what looks like a craft room filled with racks of grand dresses, piles of dress forms, colorful materials and rows of sewing machines.

On the day we showed up, they were making a probably 10-foot long dragon puppet for an upcoming educational production of The Magic Flute that will travel throughout the state, as well as a medieval-looking hat for one of the characters.

Trott grew up in the theater, but she said it wasn’t always obvious to her that she would end up working in the theater.

We sat down with her in the costume shop and talked more about what led her to this role, and how she approaches designing for the grand opera stage, like she did last year for the Arizona Opera’s original production, "Riders of the Purple Sage," which was adapted from Zane Grey’s famous Western novel.  

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