Backstage at San Francisco Opera > January 2014 > Red Carpet-Worthy Looks from 10 San Francisco Opera Productions
Red Carpet-Worthy Looks from 10 San Francisco Opera Productions
The Golden Globes, Screen Actor's Guild and of course the Grammy Awards are all behind us, and yet we've still got the Oscars to look forward to this winter! And let's be honest, isn't the red carpet the reason we all watch? It's awards season and we've got gorgeous gowns on the mind! Where better to draw inspiration than from some of the most stunning dresses to grace the stage of the War Memoria Opera House?  Join us as we look back at gowns from 10 San Francisco Opera productions that our favorite celebrities would kill to wear as they walk the red carpet this season. 

LULU 1998
costumes designed by Bob Mackie

Lulu’s bringing sexy back! Bob Mackie is known for his jaw dropping gowns and exquisite beading… sultry singers would slay on the red carpet in this dress.
Celebrities who would die to wear it:
Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Britney Spears

Eilana Lappalainen as Lulu

Mackie's design

costumes designed by John Pascoe

With yards and yards and yards of chiffon, this gown created for the incomparable Renée Fleming is the perfect picture of love, power and despair. Multi-layered and complex—like the original femme fatale herself—this is a showstopper both with and without the simple little evening coat.
Celebrities who would swish by you in it:
Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep

Renee Fleming as Lucrezia Borgia

Pascoe's design

costumes designed by Gianni Versace

The late Gianni Versace was an artistic genius, a fashion whiz and a pop culture icon.  His designs for San Francisco Opera were done at the height of the Versace vogue. His bold unmistakable stylings can still be seen on the Versace runways today.
Celebrities who would brag about “Vintage Versace” while wearing it:
Lady GaGa, Cher, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Hanna Schwartz as Clarion

Versace's design

Kiri Te Kanawa as The Countess; Versace's design

costumes designed by Christian Lacroix

Lacroix! Sweetie! With the bubble skirt, Christian Lacroix defined a decade and became a fashion superstar. Revisiting the iconic look was a natural for Giulietta as it mimicked a budding flower.
Celebrities who would rock it:
Paris Hilton, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Lana del Rey

Nicole Cabell as Giulietta

Lacroix's design

costumes designed by Catherine Zuber

Tony Award-winning designer Catherine Zuber used a fantastic orange to illustrate Texan wealth and arrogance. Cinching the waist and emphasizing the bust certainly helped to define Gutrune’s shallow lustful look.
Celebrities who would fill it out:
Christina Hendricks, Sofia Vergara, the late Anna Nicole Smith

Melissa Citro as Gutrune

Zuber's design

Costumes designed by Frank Philipp Schlössmann

Where would a 350 year-old opera star shop in the 1950s? Dior, of course. 
Designer Frank Philipp Schlössman opted for opulence when choosing a historic couture evening gown to recreate for the chic Emilia Marty.
Celebrities who would adore Dior it:
Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Gwyneth Paltrow

Karita Mattila as Emilia Marty

Schlössmann's design

Costumes designed by Buki Shiff

Designer Buki Schiff transported us to the glory days of film noir with this exquisite beaded gown.  Paired (of course) with a white fox fur and opera length gloves, this beauty heralds the golden age of Hollywood glamour.
Celebrities who would stare you down in it:
Joan Crawford, Angelina Jolie, Divine

Phyllis Pancella as Eduige

Shiff's design

Costumes designed by Bruno Schwengl

With a modern feminine reinterpretation of a biblical gown, Salome gives us an ample preview of what’s to come in the dance of the seven veils. 
Celebrities who would make the Best Dressed list in it:
Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, Cate Blanchett

Nadja Michael as Salome

Schwengl's design
Costumes designed by Robert Perdziola
This sumptuous red gown by Robert Perdziola is fit for a queen. Antique gold lace, opera length gloves and a sweeping train will command attention upon any entrance. The fact that Ruxandra Donose is literally, “dripping with jewels” doesn’t hurt.
Queens who would grace you with their presence in it:
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Queen Sofia of Spain, RuPaul

Ruxandra Donose as Poppea

Perdziola's design

costumes designed by Marie-Jeanne Lecca

Sometimes a simple black dress can be anything but…  Lady Macbeth shows us why her husband can’t refuse her most insane demands.
Celebrities who would need double stick tape for it:
Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, Donatella Versace

Giorgina Lukacs as Lady Macbeth
Photos by Marty Sohl (Lulu, L'Incoronazione di Poppea); Cory Weaver (Lucrezia Borgia, I Capuleti e i Montechi, Gotterdammerung, The Makropulous Case, Salome); Larry Merkle (Capriccio); Terrence McCarthy (Rodelinda, Macbeth).
Posted: 1/28/2014 11:30:59 AM by Christopher Verdosci (Assistant Costume Director)
Filed under: costumes, design, SFOHistory


Backstage at San Francisco Opera is a fascinating, fast-moving, mysterious and sacred space for the Company’s singers, musicians, dancers, technicians and production crews. Musical and staging rehearsals are on-going, scenery is loaded in and taken out, lighting cues are set, costumes and wigs are moved around and everything is made ready to receive the audience. From the principal singers, chorus and orchestra musicians to the creative teams for each opera, in addition to the many talented folks who don’t take a bow on stage, this blog offers unique insight, both thought-provoking and light-hearted, into the life backstage at San Francisco Opera.


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