Sandy Powell & Other Film Costume Designers Who Have Also Worked In Opera

By Francisco Salazar

This week the Liceu is opening a production of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and while the singers will be the big showcase, audiences will also get to see Oscar-winner Sandy Powell’s creations on stage.

Powell is one of the leading film costume designers who has worked with the greatest film directors in the world including Martin Scorsese, Todd Haynes, Kenneth Branagh, Julie Taymor and Jean-Marc Vallee. As a designer she has obtained 12 Oscar nominations and won three for her work on “The Young Victoria,” “The Aviator” and “Shakespeare in Love.”

In celebration of the magnificent designer’s work, let us take a look at other costume designers who have also shifted from film to the opera world.

Milena Canonero

The Italian designer is one of the most recognized in the film industry for her work on “Barry Lyndon,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Godfather.” In sum, she has won four Academy Awards.

However, she also has vast experience working in opera, including numerous collaborations with Otto Schenk on “Il Trittico” in 1979, “Die Fledermaus” in 1980 and “Andrea Chénier” in 1981 for the Vienna State Opera. She also worked with Schenk on the Metropolitan Opera’s 1983 production of “Arabella.” Most recently she designed for Luc Bondy’s new productions of Puccini’s “Tosca” for the Metropolitan Opera.

Gabriella Pescucci 

Winner of one Academy Award and a nominee for two other Oscars, Pescucci has worked on numerous films and TV shows including “Penny Dreadful,” “The Borgias,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Brothers Grimm.” As an operatic designer she has worked with Liliana Cavani’s productions of “Manon Lescaut,” “La Traviata” and “Un Ballo in Maschera” for Teatro alla Scala in addition to “Werther” for the Teatro Communale di Bologna and “Orfeo e Euridice” for the Zurich Opera.

Chloe Obolensky

Costume designer Obolensky may only have few movie credits to her name, but she has been an expert on one specific story. In 1999 she designed the costumes to Martha Fiennes’ “Onegin,” the film based on Pushkin’s poem. Then in 2013 she returned to the same story for a production of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” at the English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.

Julie Taymor

The American director is best known for her work on “Frida,” “The Tempest” and “Across the Universe.” However, while she has never worked as a costume designer on her acclaimed films but she did lend her costume designing skills for the Metropolitan Opera’s current production of “The Magic Flute,” which she also directed.

Anke Winckler

The German designer is best known for her work on “Tormenta de verano” and was nominated for the German Film Awards for “Heidi.” Most recently she designed the costumes for Philipp Stölzl’s new production for “Andrea Chénier” for the Bayerische Staatsoper.

Christian Gasc 

The French designer is best known for his work with film director Benoit Jacquot. The designer has four Cesar Awards to his name including one for a film adaptation of “Madama Butterfly.” He also designed “Farewell, My Queen” and most recently “Madame Bovary.” In the opera world, he has also worked with Jaquot on such productions as the Paris National Opera’s “La Traviata” and “Werther.” Both can be seen on DVD.


Special Features