No two days are the same
Depending on the costume design and casting, every production presents new challenges for the Wigs and Make-up department. Using make-up, wigs and special effects, this talented team brings the characters of opera and ballet productions to life. Their craft is so varied that it never gets boring.
“The bigger the metamorphosis, the more fun it is to do!”
Pim van der Wielen - senior Wigs & Make-up artist
Work on a new production always begins with a meeting with the production designer to decide on the best way to the achieve the designs. Which materials fit best with the designer's vision? Which wigs should we make in house, with what kind of hair, and which can be outsourced? The aim is to find the right balance between artistic and financial considerations.
Around the clock
The Wigs & Make-up Department is a hive of activity. Throughout the day, the staff in the studio work on wigs and make-up for new productions and repeat performances. In the evening, before and during performances, they make sure that all the singers, dancers and extras have their hair and make-up done to go on stage.
There are different ways to make a perfect-fitting wig. A common one is to make a plaster cast of the artist’s head. This is then filled with foam to create a wig block that can be used to make the wig. Another way to recreate the shape of someone’s head is using sticky tape and plastic.
Video: Wig making at Dutch National Opera
This video shows how we make wigs at Dutch National Opera. Using plaster or cling film, we create a mould of all the singers and dancers’ heads. We then use this to make a beautiful wig that fits perfectly. From making the mould to attaching the hair, it’s quite a process!
In the evening
The corridors outside the dressing rooms are teeming with life an hour before a performance. One by one, countless dancers, singers, choir members and extras take a seat in the chairs of the Wigs & Make-up Department and are prepared for the stage by a team of permanent staff and freelancers. Once the make-up has been applied, it’s time for the wig.
Video: The magic of make-up and false moustaches
What goes on behind the scenes at Dutch National Opera & Ballet is just as magical as what happens on the stage. In this video, you can see how our make-up artists prepare the entire choir of Dutch National Opera for the stage in just 70 minutes.