Now Covent Garden is giving degrees

Now Covent Garden is giving degrees


norman lebrecht

March 30, 2015

In an age where all must have prizes, the Royal Opera House has announced a degree course in making costumes.

roh degree

Seriously. A BA in cutting frocks, in association with the University of the Arts London. Read the specifications here.

You couldn’t make it up.

What next – a Met MA in media manipulation?

A Bolshoi PhD in bullsh*t?


  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Hmm, I think it’s pretty good, actually. Theatre costume design goes way beyond just needlework. There’s the harmony of the overall visual picture to consider, its relevance to the drama of the piece, the comparative colours worn by soloists according to their importance and character to mention but a few elements, not to mention their practicality.

    All in all, this course seems a lot more useful than a B.A. in Sociology or Media Studies, for example.

  • Chris Walsh says:

    I’m not sure why you’re being so snide about this. Is it that you think making costumes for theatrical productions isn’t a skill? Something that, in order to be done really well, needs a good deal of study, preferably in a working environment (like the ROH) in which you can get direct feedback?

    Perhaps you’ve seen one too many full-frontal Ring cycles, and you just don’t think costume is important at all?

  • Jon says:

    Whatever next? Why they might start giving out degrees in theatre design, painting or making jewellery. Oh that’s right, they do already.

    This looks like an excellent initiative to me and good news for the Opera House and the University of the Arts (one of those places that already gives degrees in theatre design, painting etc.).

  • Jane A. says:

    Never heard of FIT [the Fashion Institute of Technology]? After that, you take specialization courses in Opera & Theater costuming – and then usually work as an Intern with the Costume Department of some large company. I’ve been privileged to know a great many interns who started at the low end of the totem pole as stitchers with Chautauqua Opera and have worked their way up to full-fledged costume designers. Their colleagues who sing, and direct, and do the lighting respect their work – why don’t you? The opportunity to earn a credential endorsing your work to others is a very good thing.

  • Paul Kelly says:

    Universities already offer costume-making degrees. They recruit very well and, I imagine, create a bedrock of skilled newcomers to the industry. A partnership between Academia and Industry makes huge sense, especially with the global brand that is The Royal Opera House. The only surprise is that this didn’t happen sooner

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Another thought: While it might be good box office to have famous haute couturiers designing opera costumes it’s seldom a success on stage. They spend their lives clothing the anorexic then have to make ‘big-boned’ (insert name here) look good. It doesn’t often work. They could benefit from a course like this.

  • MarieTherese says:

    Costume design has long been an art worthy of advance study and is a a craft that takes years to learn and perfect. Costumes are just as important as set design and the proper fit is crucial to the comfort of the performers. It’s quite a lot more than just “cutting frocks” and to trivialize it to that extent shows a complete disregard for the complexities of the work that goes into creating a production.