Mask for Harrison Birtwistle's opera, The Mask of Orpheus, English National Opera, 1986. Designed by Jocelyn Herbert (1917-2013)

Theatre Costume
1986 (made)
Mask for Harrison Birtwistle's opera, The Mask of Orpheus, English National Opera, 1986. Designed by Jocelyn Herbert (1917-2013) thumbnail 1
Mask for Harrison Birtwistle's opera, The Mask of Orpheus, English National Opera, 1986. Designed by Jocelyn Herbert (1917-2013) thumbnail 2
+2
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Jocelyn Herbert (1917-2003) trained at the London Theatre Studio run by Michel Saint Denis and George Devine, graduating in 1938. The outbreak of war, and the demands of marriage and a family, prevented her from taking up a design career immediately, but in 1956 she joined Devine at the Royal Court Theatre as a staff scene painter and in 1957 designed her first Royal Court production, Ionesco's The Chairs. She worked with Devine for ten years and her minimal settings, in which realistic details were placed within simplified settings, revolutionised post-war stage design. Her work was seen at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the National Theatre, where her designs for Peter Hall's productions of The Oresteia (1981) and The Oedipus Plays (1996), using full masks, were much admired.

Herbert used her experience of creating the masks for The Oresteia when she came to design Harrison Birtwistle's opera, The Mask of Orpheus. The opera tells and re-tells different versions of the Orpheus myth using singers, mime artists and puppets. All were masked, the singers requiring half-masks, the mimes and puppets full masks. Some puppets were the size and proportion of the human figure but with larger heads and masks, others were larger than life. Each mask was made from a clay mould and painted to create stylised human faces.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Papier maché, rayon, chiffon, sisal and metallic thread
Brief Description
Mask for Harrison Birtwistle's opera, The Mask of Orpheus, English National Opera, 1986. Designed by Jocelyn Herbert (1917-2013)
Physical Description
Moulded and painted full face mask with large eyes, attached black eyelashes and painted black half-moon eyebrows. Within the eyeholes brown eyes with black pupils. The nose cone of the mask covering a moulded brown nose. Long brown hair of twisted sisal
Dimensions
  • Height: 78cm
  • Width: 27cm
  • Depth: 33cm
Object history
This mask was created for the premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's opera, The Mask of Orpheus, English National Opera, 1986. The production was directed by David Freeman
Summary
Jocelyn Herbert (1917-2003) trained at the London Theatre Studio run by Michel Saint Denis and George Devine, graduating in 1938. The outbreak of war, and the demands of marriage and a family, prevented her from taking up a design career immediately, but in 1956 she joined Devine at the Royal Court Theatre as a staff scene painter and in 1957 designed her first Royal Court production, Ionesco's The Chairs. She worked with Devine for ten years and her minimal settings, in which realistic details were placed within simplified settings, revolutionised post-war stage design. Her work was seen at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the National Theatre, where her designs for Peter Hall's productions of The Oresteia (1981) and The Oedipus Plays (1996), using full masks, were much admired.



Herbert used her experience of creating the masks for The Oresteia when she came to design Harrison Birtwistle's opera, The Mask of Orpheus. The opera tells and re-tells different versions of the Orpheus myth using singers, mime artists and puppets. All were masked, the singers requiring half-masks, the mimes and puppets full masks. Some puppets were the size and proportion of the human figure but with larger heads and masks, others were larger than life. Each mask was made from a clay mould and painted to create stylised human faces.
Associated Objects
Collection
Accession Number
S.9-1998

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record createdDecember 9, 2004
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