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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Design vs Reality

Last week's post showed costume designs by Caroline Siedle for the 1903 Wizard, from the collection of the Schubert Archive. I thought this week it might be interesting to show how some of the actual costumes measured up to the original concepts. The costume drawings are fascinating in their own right, and many have information on the back with names of actors or chorus members, notes concerning fabric choices, even details of construction. This was, of course, before the days of lightweight synthetic fabrics, and the costumes involved a good deal of silk, velvet, and spangles. As always, clicking on an image will enlarge it for better viewing.
 These two designs for Anna Laughlin as Dorothy are both easily recognized with little to no adaptation. The cape and staff on her elaborate Emerald City costume are missing in the photo, but perhaps they were not in use.
Tryxie's first act waitress dress is also straightforward, although in this particular photo she's wearing a cape and no cap. Her Emerald City outfit takes a little more getting used to, as the various accessories of hat, gloves, muff and parasol are missing. But there's still at least one bird on her skirt!

Dashemoff is also easy to compare, although his boots have gone missing and some detailing of the tunic seems to have changed. On the rear of the sketch for the blue first act costume, there is a bold underlined notation of No Boot! It appears that the second act leggings were also discarded in favor of tights. There are some photos of Bessie Wynn in her first act costume with boots - shorter than those in the sketch. In the end, the chance to view legs and ankles seems to have won out!
The Munchkin maidens and youths are particularly faithful to the costume design.
Some chorus members from the third act - the Cooks, who are well realized from the costume drawing, and the Guards. The Guards maintain all the details of the design, though it looks a bit overwhelming on this 1903 chorus girl!

Finally, Cynthia Cynch in her third act costume. Here again, the outfit is immediately recognizable - but it looks as though the headdress of onions may have been discarded for flowers!


Glenn Ingersoll said...

nobody is as slender as a fashion design drawing

Bill Campbell said...

True enough - and Siedle's anatomy could sometimes border on the absurd!

Stefanie Walzinger said...

Hi Bill, as I mentioned in another post, a very distant cousin of mine, Bertha Waltzinger (1867-1927) a soprano from Madison, Wisconsin (her parents were immigrants from Germany) sang in comic opera in companies such as "The Bostonians," the DeWolf Hopper Company, the De Koven/Smith and the Jefferson De Angelis opera companies. In four productions she wore costumes designed by Caroline Siedle and made by the then famous N.Y. costume designer Henry Dazian. The comic operas were "El Capitan" by John Philip Sousa, "The Mandarin" by Reginald De Koven, "The Jolly Musketeer" by Julian Edwards, and "1999" by Edouard Holst. I wonder if among the designs which could not be identified in the Shubert archive there would be some of the above mentioned comic operas. Especially "El Capitan" which world-premiered in 1896 was very successful and had a long run. But how to find out? Stefanie Walzinger