Dressed to Kill: Glam and Gore in Theatre

February 17, 2016 to June 5, 2016

Dressed to Kill explores the provocative pairing of glamour and gore in the theatre. Drawing upon the McNay’s Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, this exhibition focuses on stylish seductresses and fashionable fiends that are among the most memorable characters of the musical stage. Designs for Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Bizet’s Carmen, Puccini’s Turandot, and Elton John’s Lestat reveal one of the great strengths of the Tobin Collection: suites of costume drawings for entire productions. Early in his collecting, Robert L. B. Tobin acquired Eugene Berman’s costume sketches for the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Don Giovanni. That tradition continues today with the recent gift, from the artist, of Susan Hilferty’s costume designs for the Broadway musical Lestat, inspired by Anne Rice’s novel Interview with a Vampire. Paired with costumes borrowed from theatre companies themselves, the drawings reveal connections between theatre design and haute couture. Robert Perdziola suggested Carmen’s character in a series of different fashion looks—factory worker, gypsy dancer, matador’s favorite. Tazeena Firth and Timothy O’Brien costumed the legendary Chinese princess Turandot and her court with bejeweled splendor worthy of a runway show.