The contents of the late costume designer’s workshop will be auctioned

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The contents of the studio of an artist who designed opera star Dame Joan Sutherland’s costumes are to be auctioned off.

Michael Stennett, who died aged 74 in 2020, worked in his studio in Yoxford in Suffolk, where he designed costumes and sets and painted portraits, landscapes and still lifes.

Lyric soprano Dame Joan, described by Luciano Pavarotti as “the voice of the century”, praised Mr Stennett in her 1997 autobiography A Prima Donna’s Progress.

She wrote: “Although known for his splendid costume designs, Michael Stennett was always very versatile, painting landscapes, still lifes and portraits.

“Indeed, his creations for the theater often have the form and the face of the interpreter of the character.”

Mr. Stennett has also designed costumes for opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, English actor and politician Glenda Jackson, American actor and former model Mia Farrow and ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev.



The contents of Michael Stennett's workshop are for sale (Cheffins/PA)


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The contents of Michael Stennett’s workshop are for sale (Cheffins/PA)

He has worked in partnership with opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Royal Opera House in London and the Drottningholm Court Theater in Stockholm.

The collection is due to be auctioned at Cheffins in Cambridge on February 24.

It comprises around 300 paintings and drawings by Mr Stennett, including costume designs for performances from 1967 to 1984, including Australian Opera’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Malmo Ballet’s Swan Lake, English National’s Julius Caesar Opera and Werther from the Royal Opera Lodge.

The tiara and jewelry he made for the role of Glenda Jackson in the BBC drama Elizabeth R, and the model he sat on in his studio, are part of the collection.

Brett Tryner, director of Cheffins, said: “Michael Stennett was one of the leading costume designers of the second half of the 20th century, and his work has been hugely influential both on stage and on screen from his earliest days. at the New Theatre, creating costumes for Anne Of Green Gables in 1969.

“This collection is of historic significance to the world of opera and contains countless costume designs for some of the most famous performances that were seen from the 1960s to the 1990s.

“Mr. Stennett’s studio was an absolute gold mine for costume and set design and although this was mainly what made him famous, he was also a prolific artist, creating hundreds of portraits, still lifes and landscapes, many of which will also be offered for sale.”

Net proceeds from the sale will go to the Historic Royal Palaces charity.


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