Don Giovanni, one of history’s most famous operas, has a new home and a new look. Last month, the famed Italian masterpiece set up shop with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a killer styling team—Rodarte on costume design, NARS on makeup.
The classic narrative of arrogance and seduction plays out in the multiplanar, Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. Gehry also designed the set of the opera, which served as great inspiration to NARS lead makeup artist James Kaliardos as he crafted the makeup. “The outer and inner architecture is mind altering,” said James of the space. “It’s all angled planes. No straight walls. I created a facial architecture as a base. I let the characters drive the look of each role.” James developed makeup styles for each of the eight principles, plus their 24-member choir. And of course, the intensity of Mozart’s music and dark thematic elements helped dictate the stony, somewhat severe color palette. Female leads were accentuated with both a strong eye and lip, while men were kept ashen and sculpted; a complement to Rodarte’s futuristic yet romantic costumes and hair.
Overall, the looks are much more deconstructed and abstract compared to traditional opera, but the drama of the makeup has roots in Classic Theater. “Christopher Alden's direction with Frank Gehry's minimalist sets brings the story to its essence,” commented James. “Beauty and character in opera is larger than life! Skinny doesn't hold weight.”