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Theatre costume
  • Theatre costume
    Walker, David, born 1934 - died 2008
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Theatre costume

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1975 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Walker, David, born 1934 - died 2008 (Costume designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Furnishing fabric. lace and braid

  • Credit Line:

    Given by English National Opera

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Richard Strauss's opera Der Rosenkavalier, in style and manners, is firmly set in the 18th century and does not allow of radical reinterpretation. Many designers base their concepts on the original 1911 production, designed by Alfred Roller, although David Walker, in designing the opera for English National Opera in 1975, found Roller's work a little vulgar, while describing his own work as 'a bit like Harrod's best.' There was a handsome over- sumptuousness about Walker's costumes that married well with the sheer welter of words and notes that characterise the opera.

The role of Octavian was written not for a tenor, but for a soprano. The costume therefore in its strong lines and weight is designed to help the singer suggest a young man. In colouring and style it relates to the costume worn by Sophie, the girl with whom Octavian falls in love even though he is acting as emissary from Sophie's older admirer, Baron Ochs; the costumes therefore almost hint that there is a fundamental understanding between the young couple even before they themselves realise they are in love.

Physical description

Long 18th century style waistcoat in off-white furnishing fabric, the fronts richly decorated with silver, white and gold lace, and lace and braid rosettes

Place of Origin

England (made)


1975 (designed)


Walker, David, born 1934 - died 2008 (Costume designer)

Materials and Techniques

Furnishing fabric. lace and braid


Length: 80 cm collar to hem approximate, Width: 40 cm Widest point approximate

Object history note

This waistcoat is part of the costume designed by David Walker for Octavian in Richard Strauss' opera Der Rosenkavalier, English National Opera, 1975.

Historical significance: A fine example of theatre costume making from the 1970s, showing how period costume can be at once a reflection of historical understand and theatrical effectiveness, so that it is recognisable as period costume but, in its cut and use of materials, obvious as a creation of its time.

Descriptive line

Waistcoat worn by Octavian in Richard Strauss's opera Der Rosenkavalier, English National Opera, 1975, designed by David Walker


Lace; Sequins




Entertainment & Leisure; Stage costumes


Theatre and Performance Collection

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