operatic cape


I like praise. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person in my neighbourhood who does, given that nobody I know ever gives any evidence of wanting any. I know all kinds of people of accomplishment, and they rarely broadcast their successes.

I, on the other hand, am tempted on every minor accomplishment to do that little dance male football players do when they’ve carried a ball across some goal line. That running on the spot thing, throwing fists in the air, yelling “yesssssssssssss”!

Whenever I’ve even begun some pale and tepid imitation of that, people have looked sideways at me and I know they’re thinking I’m weird. Singing the alto line note-perfect one Sunday morning in the church choir? “Yesssssssssssssssss”! Oops. Ahem. The other choristers glance at me and away again quickly.

When I first took up sewing again a few years ago, some friends complimented me on something I was wearing, asked if I’d made it, expressed admiration over the accomplishment, but after the first or second time, that was it. How much glory do I want?

Last week I was reading a novel, Still Life, by the British author A.S. Byatt, in which the narrator was contemplating exactly that thing. She had a mother and brother who were passive and virtually helpless, but a younger sister who had just received scholarship offers from both Cambridge and Oxford and was crowing about it — quite legitimately in my opinion, and in the narrator’s opinion too.

But, she says “Defeat communicates itself, is handed on. Unlike euphoria . . . It was odd how glory could not be shared. Frederica . . . would perhaps learn this.”

Call me Frederica I guess. A Frederica who hasn’t learned.

I sewed this cape as part of a costume for an opera role I was about to sing with the amateur opera company I sang with for a few years. When I showed up wearing it at dress rehearsal, I was met with more than enough admiration. It was great. And I know the reason was that my costume was going to help everyone else look good. We all admired and congratulated each other that evening because we knew the production as a whole would please audiences more because of all of our individual efforts. As a group we could all share in the glory, and there was plenty to go around.

But that was then, and this is now. I haven’t had any occasion to wear this cape since then, and I don’t see any occasion coming up. Where does one wear a gold-lined blue velvet cape, except on a stage? What do you do with clothes in your closet you’ve laboured over for one special occasion? It’s inconceivable to me to sell it or give it away. I guess I can pull it out every once in a while and enjoy the feel of it.

I got the fabric in a bin at a discount outlet. It’s the most fluid kind of velvet there is, so I think it’s silk. I got two other pieces at the same time, and they’re in my stash, waiting for the “perfect” pattern. I hope to make something I have more than one occasion to wear with them. I used a simplicity pattern, 5794. Looking at the pattern envelope just now, I’m thinking, hmmm, I could make another one with a hood, and longer ๐Ÿ™‚ I may have to cultivate a different lifestyle to match my clothes …


It’s a real beauty, isn’t it? Isn’t it?



5 thoughts on “operatic cape”

  1. Yes it is beauty! Compliment – compliment – compliment ๐Ÿ™‚ And more compliments for singing in an opera!!!
    You could change it into something new, wear it for carneval or keep it for your grandchilds… … They will be happy to find awesome treasures in the attic!


    1. Oh, you’re too kind.Thank you, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ There are no children and thus no grandchildren. However, maybe there will be some future special event where it will seem appropriate. Or so wildly inappropriate that it will be just the right thing.


      1. It was and remains beautiful and yes, it did help everyone on stage look and feel grand.

        I am a very poor seamstress and am always impressed by good sewing. In Grade 8 I would have preferred wood shop, but, alas, was about 3 years ahead of my time. I recall getting a very poor grade on the flannel nightie I made as my term project. Embarrassing though the whole ordeal was, I had to wear the damn thing on stage as part of our school fashion show. I also remember that it lasted at least 15 years, and lived on beyond that as a set of matching dustcloths. Take that, Miss Green!

        Your most praiseworthy cape warrants a more showy photograph, BTW.


  2. I would have liked to take sewing (not the rest of home ec thank you very much), latin and music. Alas, I had to take typing and shorthand. Yuck. I’m still figuring out the photo business here. I did try for more extravagant, but ….. this is what came of it ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for posting.


  3. I think that the glorious cape should next be worn on a night out at the opera.

    I would have liked to have taken home ec, but I too was ahead of my time.


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