It has been quipped that in order to perform Adriana Lecouvreur successfully, real-life divas must be cast. Art must imitate life and despite thrilling drama and chest-heaving music, the current stock of bona fide divas is rather sparse. Therefore, Adriana Lecouvreur remains mostly on the shelf of the operatic repertoire. However, the Met assembled a perfect bill of spectacularly strong singers for the star-studded Live in HD broadcast. The heat was on !
Sir David McVicar’s elegant production embodied the powder and pomp of 18th century French theater. With a bust of Molière gracing the stage like a god watching and listening in silence to his progeny perform, one could almost immediately grasp the nucleus of the opera: no one is faithful to anyone in love.
A love triangle with deadly stakes, my brain was twisted in two trying to unravel the deception of it all. But probably the most anticipated of all the action was the impending battle between Anita Rachvelishvili and Anna Netrebko. This was to be Round 2 of the Anna vs. Anita vocal boxing match ─ the first occurring in Aida just a few months prior.
“They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went with their paws;” to quote from the famed poem by James Leigh Hunt… I loved every moment of it !
While the plot twists and intrigue of the opera were at times difficult to untangle, my 18th century gown was anything but a chore, which surprised even me !
Using the Simplicity 4092 pattern that included pocket hoops for support of a proper silhouette (a terrific perk to Andrea Schewe’s delightful design), I made the featured gold version on the envelope (B), and began working on my Rococo-inspired gown as the very first project on my brand new Baby Lock sewing machine and serger.
But the real secret to such a regal gown without breaking the bank on luxurious silks and brocades is that I used extra wide width polyester curtain fabric, which significantly cut down on the costs of materials. (Can someone say, “Scarlett O’Hara” ?) According to the pattern instructions, the gown called for close to 5 yards of fabric. However, with the 3+ meter width of the green and gold floral damask upholstery material I used, I only needed to purchase 2 yards (2 yards @ 120 inches wide ≈ 6 yards) in addition to 1 yard of a contrasting cream material for the stomacher and underskirt. Instead of spending over $100 on standard width material (54-60″), I rounded my totals to just under $33, minus the shipping costs ─ what a steal !
My alterations were few: I lowered the neckline slightly in order to achieve the peeking bosom look of the era as well as slimming down the sleeves to fit more snugly. Bows were a must and frilly trims, too. But the bow pattern that was included in the packet was much too “cartoonish” in its original format for my taste, so I reworked those to better suit the width of the front stomacher. They were so cute !
And check out the pocket hoops ! Although not as wide as traditional panniers, they provided just the right “oompf” to the pleated skirts of the gown.
Perfectly fashioned in the 18th century style, my mother had the task of arranging my hair. Didn’t she do a great job ? It reminded me of Belle from the ballroom scene in “Beauty and the Beast”.
This was a fabulous gown worn to an equally glamorous opera with captivating historical backstories ! Marie Antoinette would’ve been proud.
Toi, Toi, Toi,
Cast and Credits:
Adriana Lecouvreur ─ Francisco Cilea (1902)
Live in HD air date: January 12, 2019
Adriana Lecouvreur ─ Anna Netrebko
Maurizio ─ Piotr Beczała
Princess of Bouillon ─ Anita Rachvelishvili
Michonnet ─ Ambrogio Maestri
The Abbé ─ Carlo Bosi
Prince of Bouillon ─ Maurizio Muraro
Conductor ─ Gianandrea Noseda
Production ─ Sir David McVicar
Set Designer ─ Charles Edwards
Costume Designer ─ Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting Designer ─ Adam Silverman
Choreographer ─ Andrew George
Associate Director ─ Justin Way
Live in HD Director ─ Gary Halvorson
Host ─ Matthew Polenzani