Opera mourns the miserable death of a great costumier, 76

Opera mourns the miserable death of a great costumier, 76


norman lebrecht

January 14, 2022

Opéra de Marseille has led the tributes to Christian Gasc, who has been found dead at home in wretched circumstances.

The Marseille Opera has sadly learned about the passing of the costume designer CHRISTIAN GASC. Elegance and passion characterized him as much as his immense talent and kindness. Many times winner of Moliere and Cesar awards, he put his talent in the service of cinema, theatre and opera. The Costume Workshop and the public of the Marseille Opera will remember the creation of the costumes of “Marius et Fanny” with Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu, as well as the production of “Andre Chénier” staged by Claire Servais. The entire staff express their sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.

Angela Gheorghiu adds: ‘I am deeply saddened by the passing of extraordinary, unsurpassed costume designer, my dearest friend Christian Gasc, with whom I had a very close friendship and correspondence until his end. A generous man of culture and of great finesse.
It was a privilege to work together and to be dressed in his beautiful costumes in the movies of Tosca and Roméo et Juliette, as well as for the world premiere of Marius et Fanny. Cher Christian, tu resteras toujours dans mon coeur, merci pour tout 💔🙏 Angela.’

The playwright Jean-Marie Besset reports that Christian died in poverty and under social care:
Apparemment Christian était sous tutelle et on lui accordait 200 euros par mois. Le chargé de tutelle l’a retrouvé hier onze janvier, dans sa petite chambre de bonne de la rue Servandoni, où il était mort (non pas dix jours plus tôt, comme ce fut dit, mais) la veille.
Beaucoup d’entre nous s’étaient éloignés de lui.
Nous ignorions qu’il était dans une telle détresse. Personne ne nous avait prévenus. Mais honte à nous de ne pas avoir cherché non plus à savoir.
Dans notre France de 2022, un artiste si couronné (Césars, Molière…) peut donc mourir dans la solitude, la misère et l’indifférence.
Pauvre, pauvre Christian. Pardonne nous.
PS: A l’initiative d’un proche, Valérian Guillaume, s’organisent une cérémonie à Saint Sulpice et une collecte pour les obsèques.
Ses amis sont invités à écrire à jdv23@sfr.fr (Jérôme Duval, le curateur, c’est à dire le chargé de tutelle) dans l’attente de la suite des informations.

Apparently Christian was under social care on 200 euros a month. The person in charge of his case found him … in his little room on rue Servandoni… Many of us had lost contact with him. We didn’t know he was in such distress. No one warned us. But shame on us that we didn’t seek to know either. In our France of 2022 that such an honoured artist (Cesars, Moliere… ) can die in loneliness, misery and indifference. Poor, poor Christian. Forgive us.


This is his official Covent Garden CV:

Gasc grew up in Tarn-et-Garonne and developed a passion for cinema at an early age. He moved to Paris aged 15 and began work as a costume designer for cinema with the help of director Liliane Kermadec, for whom he designed costumes for Aloïse (1975). He subsequently worked with such film directors as Claire Denis, Marguerite Duras, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacquot, Patrice Leconte, André Téchiné and François Truffaut. For Jacquot his costume designs for films include Sade (2000), Au Fond des bois (2010) and Les Adieux à la reine (2012). He has also worked with Jacquot for television.

Gasc’s many opera credits include La traviata (Paris Opéra, with Jacquot), Così fan tutte (Grand Théâtre de Genève), Guillaume Tell (Zürich Opera), La clemenza di Tito and Manon Lescaut (La Scala, Milan), FalstaffDer Ring des Nibelungen and Andrea Chénier (Opéra Royal de Wallonie), Andrea Chénier (Monte Carlo), Cyrano de Bergerac (Opéra national de Montpellier), Peter Pan (Théâtre du Châtelet), Manon Lescaut (Teatro Regio, Turin) and Cosma’s Marius et Fanny (Marseilles and Avignon). In theatre he has designed costumes for plays by Chekhov, Claudel, Cocteau, Corneille, Dumas fils, Feydeau, Guitry, Ibsen, Kleist, Wilde and Tennessee Williams.


  • Paul Dawson says:

    How does “…my dearest friend Christian Gasc, with whom I had a very close friendship and correspondence until his end” equate with “…die in loneliness, misery and indifference”?

    I’ll sign up to Besset’s tribute rather than Gheorghiu’s.

    • PB says:

      What a mean comment for a heartfelt tribute, and this after somebody’s loss?!
      Unfortunately, great artists have it in their blood not to admit to anyone that they would be so unwell, and most probably his discretion and his dignity brought his miserable death too.
      What is really shameful is that except two publications in France nobody in France even acknoledged his death.
      R.I.P. Christian Gasc!

    • Peter says:

      What was she supposed to do?
      If she knew about this, was she supposed to publically let people know that Gasc had such a terrible situation? Things like this are done with discretion and respect.
      The indifference did not come from her, on the contrary, it seems they were very good friends as she was the first to pay him a wonderful tribute.

  • Evelyn Harrison says:

    This is yet another sad tribute to the coldness and the extremely uncivilised social culture of French society, unparalleled anywhere.

    I lived for eight years in France, first in Nice and then in Paris for seven years. I have also lived in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States. Never have I encountered such a primitive and wicked society anywhere else that I have been, a society where indifference to your neighbour is considered “normal” and they cover it up and excuse it as being “discreet”. It has nothing to do with that, it is pure lack of civilisation, selfishness and disinterest in other human beings. I have witnessed no less than two times a sick older neighbour begging and crying for help from other neighbours in the building only to be laughed at and told to “call your son”, or “I’m not your nurse”! I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears, but others have told me that they encountered similar things in France.

    Sadly, this poor man fell victim to that same French indifference, callousness and primitiveness. Shameful society!

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Interesting. France Musique this morning related nothing of the squalor of his passing, just his accolades.

  • Nigel Barnes says:

    Many of us will no doubt remember the 2003 heat wave in France, where nearly 15,000 French people died, suffocated in their small apartments, nearly all elderly, ignored and neglected by their very own families and their own neighbours!
    This article clearly attributes the blame for this tragedy on the French “lifestyle” and sums it up with this quote from the article:
    – “The French lifestyle has also come under scrutiny, since some of the elderly victims died alone in their homes while families were away on lengthy August holidays. Authorities reportedly had difficulties making contact with survivors who were away on vacation.”
    So, this sort of human neglect seems to be endemic in French society. It is indeed shameful, as is the case reported here.