Sustainability Stories: The costume cycle

The beautiful costumes that create our most-loved productions go on to create so much more after they have finished being used on the stage. They become part of our learning activities and even make their way into your own homes.

The Royal Opera House are the custodians of some of opera and ballet’s most memorable costumes. The beauty and the detail are preserved by both the in-house costume department and the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop and Costume Centre. From Odette’s delicate feathers in The Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake to the glittering Queen of the Night from The Royal Opera’s performances of The Magic Flute, these costumes have been shared and reused between dancers, singers, companies and schools.

When costumes are reused or reshaped there are often off-cuts, buttons, threads and patches left over. The costume department work hard to make sure that not even these elements go to waste. You can find them put to good use in the following ways:

Little Amal

Little Amal is a larger-than-life puppet that has been created by Handspring Puppets and is touring the world with Good Chance Theatre. Little Amal has taken a journey from the borders of Syria, through 65 cities, engaging in cultural organisations and communities to highlight the support needed for children displaced by war, economics or discrimination.

Little Amal visited the Royal Opera House on 23 October. An evening of dance and music shared the experiences of refugees and invited Little Amal to a bed for the night. Staff from the Royal Opera House created a quilt for Little Amal as part of this experience. Costume off-cuts were used to do this and the quilt will be donated to Little Amal as she continues her journey.

In our shop

You can take a piece of the magic of opera and ballet home with you through the costume department range sold in the shop and online. You can create your own theatre-inspired crafts with our fabric fat eighths bundles or bunches of costume buttons. Our costume off-cuts have also been refashioned into beautiful, bespoke homeware. Costume waste from the operas The Nose and Eugene Onegin as well as the Crystal Pite’s ballet Flight Pattern have been handmade into cushions so that you can sit back, relax and know you have helped us to be more sustainable with our post-production waste.