Throughout the process of creating the Götterdämmerung production, the preamble to that oft used quote kept repeating in my head. The obvious reason, of course, is the “village” of singers, designers, artisan, technical wizards, stagehands, wardrobe and the various support staff involved in the mounting of the Ring cycle.
The quote also became a mantra of sorts in the creation of the chorus costumes for Götterdämmerung. The challenge was to create a “village” with 76 choristers, clothed entirely in black. We needed to create the denizens of this post apocalyptic world in a realistic fashion, as Francesca will be staging them not only into the wedding, but also the immolation scene.
The first step in accomplishing this was to break the gentlemen up into social classes, i.e. workers, police, military officers, enlisted military and even a few chefs. The women would all be assigned modern, fairly formal costumes as wedding guests and each woman would have a gentleman counterpart. To construct even more individuality and depth into the group of 44 guests, the costume designer Catherine Zuber and I took a unique approach. We divided them into three subgroups. The first group of costumes were designed by Catherine and built in our costume shop. Catherine and I then each took one of the remaining two groups and shopped for the costumes—Catherine in New York City and I in the Bay Area. With this approach, we were able to achieve a nuanced individuality to the look of the chorus—a realistic mix of style that would be found in citizens of any town, world, or in this case…village.
[Above: A few of Catherine Zuber's costume designs for Götterdämmerung]