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Inventing the Business of OperaThe Impresario and His World in Seventeenth-Century Venice$
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Jonathan Glixon and Beth Glixon

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195154160

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195154160.001.0001

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Inventing the Business of Opera

Beth L. Glixon

Jonathan E. Glixon

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at costumes and their importance in mid-17h-century opera. Rather than reuse old stock, costumes were redesigned and remanufactured each year, especially those for the main characters. The practice in Venice was for a separate artisan to take charge of costume design and manufacture. Venice was famous for the manufacturing and sale of cloth, and costumes could be made of a variety of silks and other fabrics; embellishments included embroidery and lace were added. The costumes for the minor characters and extras, however, could be rented from an agent or jobber. Some costumes for the prima donnas were especially extravagant, often costing more than many singers would earn in an entire year. On occasion these would be offered as an enticement to hire a prominent singer, who would then get to keep the dress after the opera had concluded. After the opera season, the costumes could be returned as the property of the designer/tailor, or could be distributed among the investors of the company for their own use or as capital.

Keywords:   cloth, silks, embroidery, lace, costume designer, tailor, prima donnas, impresario

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