Opera, fashion, and beer-it’s a thing! At least in the upcoming Opera Grand Rapids production The Student Prince, with costume designs created by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) Pamella Roland DeVos School of Fashion students.

The partnership is an extension of last spring’s successful collaboration when KCAD Fashion Studies students designed costumes for the Opera Grand Rapids production of “Tosca.” This time around, the students will both design and construct the costumes, actively participating in the creative process from start to finish.

Bavarian Chic Style
Mood Board" for women's Bavarian chic style, Photo credit KCAD

The collaboration kicked off with a meeting between Opera Grand Rapids and KCAD students to learn more about The Student Prince and the project overall. Students broke into groups of two to design costumes for all characters in the operetta. From there designs began to flow that kept the original Bavarian feel of the show while bringing it into modern times. Students presented their designs and storyboards to Opera Grand Rapids and the producers before heading into production.

“Not only do the students get the exceptional experience of creating original costumes for a staged opera production,” Ashley Roberts, marketing director for Opera Grand Rapids, said. “The project also provides the students and the artistic team more creative freedom to adapt the costumes for our 21st-century interpretation of the production.”

KCAD Fashion Studies students presenting to Opera GR
KCAD Fashion Studies students presenting their design concepts
Photo credit KCAD

Sigmund Romberg’s two-hour operetta originally set in a Heidelberg biergarten takes on a West Michigan-centered approach under Stage Director Scott Skiba. Along with modernized costume styles, thanks to the KCAD students, Skiba’s staging celebrates Grand Rapids’ thriving craft beer culture.

Roberts notes that operettas, including The Student Prince, are more accessible to audiences since they are shorter in length from typical grand opera productions, sung in English, and are light-hearted and comical in nature.

For those who enjoy grand opera productions, The Student Prince is a way to experience another facet of the opera art form Roberts said. “The production offers an opportunity to see a lighter side of opera in a way that still includes the things that audiences love, such as excellent vocals and orchestral music.”

Student Inspiration Board
Student "mood board"
Photo credit KCAD

If Roberts could tell audiences one thing about opera, it’s that Opera Grand Rapids offers a diversity in programming to suit differing tastes. They will always produce grand opera, but there is so much more to experience.

So whether you are an opera aficionado or experiencing your first, mark your calendar to see this wonderful collaboration in person when The Student Prince is performed at St. Cecilia Music Center June 9, 10 and 12.