THE GRAND ELISSA COSTUME





"This tromphy from our saviour, from the enslaving force of Rome!!!"



A grand, glittering opera costume, possibly inspired by the snake godess of the ancient Minoan civilization. There are several things suggesting that - the "bare breasts", the pleated hem of the skirt, the apron, the X shaped pattern in the bottom of the skirt (seen in another statue). It's also one of the few antique sources showing such a specific skirt and bodice - many other cultures went for fabric draped in different manners. But this is even more Victorian splendor at its finest.

The basic construction of the costume is a grand green or stripy green/gold skirt with a pleated red/golden hem. The hem have ribbons forming an X pattern, and tassels and gems. Between three and six highly decorated tabs (in the form of spears) hangs from the waist; one in front and various at the side and back. These often have the pattern of globes, circles or similar. In front there's an apron, usually red, with a "belt" consisting of brooches and beads. The back has an elaborate waterfall backdrape, often with a contrasting lining. Some costumes also have a tab in center back, but this varies. Over the skirt Carlotta wears a corseted bodice. Alternate red and green velvet are put together, and the seams are covered with gold. The front is pointed, and the bust is emphasized by a flesh coloured "bra" decorated with strings of beads and jewels. The beads are continued over the arms and towards the back. Carlotta also wears a magnificent tiara, a necklace and various wrist bands and earrings. She also briefly use the silk scarf Christine is seen with in "Think of Me". Everything is kept in the key colous of the mock opera "Hannibal": red, green, golden and black.

The costume design suggests waterfall backdrapes, and I think all productions has had that in their version of the costume (though slightly different executed). It also shows a green skirt with red apron and golden details, and that is also to be found in most versions, though some has added stripes and patterned fabrics. In the US most bodices are front closed with a zip, while many other versions are closed in the back by zipper, hooks and eyes or in rare cases also lacing. In general the skirt is very adaptable in size and can be used by several Carlottas, while most of them have an individual bodice to wear overneath.

There's no doubt that this is Carlotta's grandest costume, both in price and size... In America they joke about it costing as much as a medium sportscar, because it demands a lot of materials as well as hours of work. In Copenhagen the costume was said to weigh around 17 kilos, while an elder London version is said to weigh 11 kilos. But the weight of the costume is put on the waist and not the shoulders, so according to most singers the costume is OK to wear - though it takes two dressers to put it on, and you should be careful when turning rapidly... Some versions uses sari braids and gold Indian appliqués, others use a lot of brocades and gems. They all have metres and metres of ribbons, tassels, stones and silk. A costume worn by the Prima Donna would have to be this elaborate and grand to show off how successful she was, and most likely she would have her own dress makers.

THE DESIGN



ORIGINAL ELISSA COSTUME IN WEST END



DEVELOPMENT IN WEST END



NEWER WEST END




GERMANY




OTHER EUROPEAN VERSIONS





US VERSIONS







CANADIAN VERSIONS



AUSTRALIAN VERSIONS (INCLUDING WORLD TOUR)





JAPANESE VERSIONS