Lyric Opera of Chicago. Anne Rosen and Diana Newman.  © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015
Lyric Opera of Chicago. Anne Rosen and Diana Newman.
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015

What you wear plays a huge part in who you are. What we wear determines how we broadcast our personalities to the world, and it’s a massive part of our identities. Of course, when you’re playing someone else, that characterization takes on a whole new level.

Just ask Annie Rosen and Diana Newman, currently starring as the step-sisters in the Lyric Opera of Chicago‘s presentation of Rossini’s Cinderella. 

Different from the Disney version you’re probably most familiar with, Rossini’s Cinderella features subtle difference. The Prince goes undercover as a servant to find his true love, the fairy godmother is actually a wizard, and instead of the infamous glass slippers, Cinderella has matching diamond bracelets.

Similar to the Walt’s vision, however, is the ostentatious and overly-ornate depiction of the two step-sisters. What plays in to these two dynamic characters is their outfits; what’s a girl without the right dress?

“My stepsister is all about the clothes,” Rosen laughed, “She starts off, and right away my character is looking at fabric swatches. She’s so vain, and it’s enhanced when you’re running around in these crazy costumes. We get these massive, electric ball gowns. I feel like I don’t understand the character until I’m wearing what she’s wearing.”

The costumes in Cinderella go beyond adding to the character, they contribute to the entire production. The morals of Cinderella – hope, hard work, and true love – are all amplified in the clothing. Cinderella is transformed from rags to opulent ball gowns, and the step-sister’s are grossly ostentatious in a way that amplifies their proud personalities.

“For our characters, the costumes are such a huge part of it, because they are such a huge part of the characters themselves,” Newman commented.

Annie Rosen, Vito Priante, Diana Newman.
Annie Rosen, Vito Priante, Diana Newman.

I had the privilege of attending the Lyric Opera’s presentation of Cinderella after speaking with both of these actresses, and their words made even more sense. From the very first note, the costumes of these two characters added to how they were personified on stage. The delicate and stunning costumes, on every character, was just one of the hundreds of elements that contributed to such a fantastic display of artistry.

A genuine feast of the senses, Cinderella proved to have something for everyone. It was heartwarming, like you’d expect from a fairytale, yet moving and unapologetically hysterical at times. Like, “laugh-out-loud in the middle of a stunning opera house” hysterical. Which was another incredible, unexpected element of opera – how relatable it was.

Often misjudged as being too intellectual and hard to understand, the opera was instead hilarious and incredibly relatable. The entire cast and team that worked behind the Lyric Opera of Chicago‘s presentation of Cinderella knocked it out of the park. Whether you’re looking for incredible fashion or a feast for the senses – you can get it all at Lyric.

Tickets to this production were generously gifted by the Lyric Opera.