The Dallas Opera has announced that its longtime costume designer, Peter J. Hall, died last week at his Dallas home — from cardiac complications following a prolonged illness. He was 84 years old.
Hall designed the sets and costumes for more than 70 Dallas Opera productions since The Barber of Seville in 1962. But he had an amazing career throughout the international music world: He was resident costumer for several seasons for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He also worked at the Royal Opera House in London, the Vienna State Opera, La Scala and the Kirov Opera in St. Petersburg. His clientele included Luciano Pavarotti, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Plácido Domingo, Elizabeth Taylor, David Bowie (“serious, intellectual, wonderful to work with”) and Mick Jagger (“Exactly the opposite. Impossible, because he listened to advice from one person after another, and constantly changed his mind”).
Hall was lured to Dallas in the ’60s to establish a permanent costume shop by Dallas Opera co-founders Larry Kelly and Nicola Rescigno. He had been working in Italy with director Franco Zefirelli while also designing for the Dallas Civic Opera.
In 2008, he explained to the Seattle Times that people may not come out of an opera humming the costumes, but his inspiration came from the music.
“These days,” sniffs Hall, “it’s the fashion to do opera in bluejeans and tank tops. This cheats the public. You have to listen to the music and what it says to you. It is certainly not saying ‘bluejeans and tank tops.’ “