Dressed to Kill: Glam and Gore in Theatre


Annette Barraza, The Paisano

Annette Barraza


Annette Barraza, The Paisano
Annette Barraza, The Paisano

Dressed to Kill: Glam and Gore in Theatre, an exhibition at McNay pairs designs with costumes inspired by five infamously stylish seductresses and fashionable fiends seen on an operatic stage: “Carmen,” “Lulu,” “Lestat,” “Turandot” and “Don Giovanni.”

Each of the five theatre works accompany a description of the play and an explanation for some of the costume designs. Sketches of the costumes and some of the originals themselves donated by designers accompany the collection. The most recent addition to the collection are the sketches for costume designs for “Lestat.”

The Broadway musical “Lestat” features period garments exquisitely designed to also convey central meaning and undermine the myths of vampire lore.

The 1957 opera “Don Giovanni” features a leading man dressed for any occasion—be it to seduce, deceive, escape or even defend himself.

The leading lady in the opera “Carmen” changes identities—and men. Her costumes range from a scanty petticoat and camisole to a tiered, gypsy-red “traje de flamenco.”

The 1937 opera “Lulu” features the lead character ironically dressed in white, until the tragic last scene— although she brought about the death of many men, including that of her five admirers and a friend who dies trying to protect her from her imminent death.

The 1926 opera “Turandot” exhibits extravagant designs: costumes made of silk robes and jewels, represented in the sketches as sequins.

The tells of Princess Lou-Ling, who asked three riddles to men seeking her hand, are quite like Atlanta from Greek mythology, who challenged her suitors to a footrace, which losing would result in their death.

The exhibit offers a tangible connection between the work and costumes created for characters who deceive, commit crimes, undermine, destroy and kill.

The Dressed to Kill exhibit is a program provided by Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, which also donated to UTSA’s Department of Music in 2004.

The Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum houses the vast library and theater arts collection of Robert L.B. and Margaret Batts Tobin, strong supporters of the McNay from its opening in 1954.

Annette Barraza, The Paisano
Annette Barraza, The Paisano

The historic McNay Mansion, built in 1927, and was converted to an art museum in 1950 when it was bequeathed to become an art museum. The original architects assisted in the metamorphosis of the mansion into a museum.

A guard who has worked there for eight years even testified that several people have spotted the friendly ghost of Mrs. McNay, especially at the grand staircase.

The museum houses the works of Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, Camille Pissaro, Henri Rousseau and Paul Gauguin, as well as shows films and offers special events such as exhibition lectures, workshops and ArtFULL Wednesdays. It is also a popular spot to take pictures and have wedding receptions.

The Dressed to Kill: Glam and Gore in Theatre exhibit will be open until June 5.