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Costume design

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (drawn)

  • Date:

    1966 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Stone, Alix, born 1913 - died 2010 (costume designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Photocopy, lurex and lurex net on paper annotated in pencil and felt tip pen

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

It may take several stages before a design jells. So that they do not have to constantly redraw the basic figure, designers may devise an outline figure which is then photocopied and on which they can try out various colour or pattern combinations. Alix Stone, in designing Benjamin Britten's opera Gloriana, took most of her costume references from known paintings of Queen Elizabeth I, and modified them accordingly when she designed the opera for the Sadler's Wells Opera company in 1966 and again when the production was revived in the 1970s.

The sheet may, in fact, date from the later revival. The lurex fabric samples are typical of the 1970s, if not of the Elizabethan era. It clearly shows that, however historical the research, designers recreate in terms of their own time, using available fabrics and materials. This helps make the productions acceptable to an audience which no longer expects detailed historical realism, but accepts an historical interpretation.

Physical description

Photocopy of a costume design for Queen Elizabeth I in Act II Scene 3. The design depicts a three quarter length female figure in an "Elizabethan" style costume. The costume consists of a heavily embroidered farthingale dress with long oversleeves, and an elaborate open ruff trimmed with lace. A feather fan hangs from her waist. Four fabric swatches are attached to the lower right hand corner.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (drawn)


1966 (drawn)


Stone, Alix, born 1913 - died 2010 (costume designer)

Materials and Techniques

Photocopy, lurex and lurex net on paper annotated in pencil and felt tip pen

Marks and inscriptions

' ELIZABETH / PALE CREAMY / & Stomacher 3 metres '
Textual information; Lower left hand corner.; handwriting; Felt tip pen


Height: 414 mm, Width: 277 mm

Object history note

This costume design by Alix Stone is part of an extensive collection of designs purchased by the Theatre Museum directly from the artist in 1994. The design was executed for a production of Benjamin Britten's opera "Gloriana" by the Sadler's Wells Opera at Sadler's Wells, October 21st 1966. The libretto by William Plomer is based on Lytton Strachey's book "Elizabeth and Essex". The opera was produced by Colin Graham, conducted by Mario Bernardi, choroegraphed by Peter Darrell, and lit by Charles Bristow. Sylvia Fisher sang the role of Queen Elizabeth I, John Wakefield was Essex, and John Cameron was Cecil. The production was revived at Sadler's Wells in September 1967, and March 1968. It was also performed at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 1968.

In February 1969 the designs were revised by Alix Stone when Sadler's Wells Opera (later English National Opera) moved to the much larger stage of the London Coliseum. This revised production was revived at the Coliseum in August 1972, February 1975, and March 1984 (when it was recorded for Channel 4 TV and released on video). The production also toured to the Vienna Volksoper in June 1975; and to the USA where it was performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in the summer of 1984.

Descriptive line

Photocopy of a costume design with swatches by Alix Stone for Queen Elizabeth I in Act II Scene 3 of "Gloriana", Sadler's Wells Opera at Sadler's Wells, October 21st, 1966

Production Note

Reason For Production: Commission


Paper; Ink; Pencil; Lurex; Net


Drawn; Photocopied


Entertainment & Leisure; Designs

Production Type



Theatre and Performance Collection

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