Two US ensembles turn costume shops to health care

Two US ensembles turn costume shops to health care


norman lebrecht

March 26, 2020

Atlanta Opera has turned over its costume department to making medical masks for use in area hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The opera company has received requests for 72,000 masks. They are working round the clock.

Atlanta artistic director Tomer Zvulun, who once served as an Israeli army medic, says: ‘This is a time of great need for the medical community and the community at large. The question that we ask ourselves is no longer ‘How can we save our productions?’ but ‘How can we help save lives?’


Oklahoma’s Tulsa Ballet is also creating masks. A supervisor said: ‘These are not for patients with COVID-19, these are not for doctors and nurses with COVID-19, but they are to kind of alleviate some of the pressure that the hospitals are facing right now due to mass shortage.’

UPDATE: In Germany, Bonn Oper is doing the same.


  • WillymH says:

    Great work on the part of all three companies!

  • anon says:

    Broadway costume designers, wardrobe assistants, and seamstresses are also collectively sewing masks for NYC hospitals including Sloan Kettering, where a doctor friend let me know they are washing N95 masks and face shields with soap and water to reuse them because the supplies were so short. Another doctor friend who works pediatrics in a hospital in the Bronx has been posting instruction videos on how to make face shields out of home office supplies (lamination sheets, transparencies, etc) to donate.

  • Amos says:

    Undisputably heartening, but along with the picture of nursing staff in NYC hospitals draped in trash bags, criminal in the US. We have know what was coming since January 1st and yet we have to resort to these primitive solutions.

  • mary says:

    “these are not for patients with COVID-19, these are not for doctors and nurses”

    You know, industrial manufacturers make masks that must conform to certain minimum sanitary standards, that are traceable in case of a recall, not so for homemade masks.

    You don’t know what the fabric is, if the fabric is clean or free of toxins or chemicals, or even adapted for the use. Just because it makes for a great dress for Tosca doesn’t mean you should put it to your nose and mouth and breathe through it.

    Do yourself a favor, thank the well meaning donor, and throw it out.

  • Me! says:

    She’s got her bare, potentially covid covered hands, and her unmasked face breathing down all over each mask she’s asking people to press into their own nose and mouth and touch – this isn’t helpful!!

    • Amos says:

      The masks would be sterilized by autoclave before use but the tragedy is that we don’t live in the 19th century and have modern means to protect hospital workers. In the US the problem is that the President refuses to invoke the Defense Production Act to guarantee adequate production of PPE because that would be an admission that we have a crisis which to date he has mismanaged.