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Costume design - Annena Stubbs costume design

Annena Stubbs costume design

  • Object:

    Costume design

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1976 (Designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Stubbs, Annena (Designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Charcoal, coloured ink, gouache annotated in pencil

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In designing Michael Tippett's opera The Midsummer Marriage for Welsh National Opera in 1976, Annena Stubbs worked in collaboration with her husband, Ralph Koltai; he designed the sets and she the costumes. The action centres around the ritual celebration of fertility and is a blend of the present with the timeless. If Tippett's visionary opera is to work, it has to be rooted in reality and in this production the costumes were an important element in creating the right context for the audience's imagination.
Throughout Stubbs used colour to suggest the progress of the trials undergone by the young people in the course of the opera. The bright, lush green in this design suggested fertility and was in deliberate in contrast to the silvery greys used for the Ancients (see S.1141-1982).
The design is not a clear blueprint for making the costume, but rather an imaginative suggestion of what the finished dress should look like. With such indefinite, but impressionistic designs, the makers work closely with the designer to realise the concept.

Physical description

Full length female figure wearing short fitted dress with frilled v-neck and bishop sleeves with frilled cuffs and ankle-strapped high-heeled shoes with front bow on the vamp. The face is sketched over in flesh tone with eyes coloured blue and lips red. The dress is airbrushed in black over the bust and skirt and the lower third is airbrushed flourescent lime green.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1976 (Designed)


Stubbs, Annena (Designer)

Materials and Techniques

Charcoal, coloured ink, gouache annotated in pencil

Marks and inscriptions

"Midsummer Marriage / Bella"
pencil lower left hand corner

"Annena Stubbs '76"
perncil lower right hand corner


Height: 561 mm, Width: 369 mm

Object history note

The design was created by Annena Stubbs for Bella in Michael Tippett's opera The Midsummer Marriage, produced by Ian Watt-Smith for Welsh National Opera in 1976. It was acclaimed by the press as one of the clearest productions of Tippett's visionary work, and the costumes were praised for helping to clarify the progress of the experiences undergone by the leading characters. Mary Davies sang Bella.

Historical significance: Costume designs for one of the seminal modern British operas.

Descriptive line

Costume design by Annena Stubbs for Bella in Michael Tippett's opera The Midsummer Marriage, Welsh National Opera, New Theatre Cardiff, 1976. Charcoal, gouache and ink


Charcoal; Coloured ink; Gouache; Pencil




Entertainment & Leisure; Opera; Designs


Theatre and Performance Collection

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