Shoes and leather accessories are made by expert hands in the Leather workshop at La Monnaie.
An opera shoe, as well as meeting the aesthetic requirements of the staging, must above all be comfortable and stable.
The costume designer’s sketches indicate the shape and colour of the shoes.
Precise measurements are taken of the singers’ feet. For flat shoes, for example, five measurements must be taken: the toes, the instep girth, the instep, the cuff alignment, and the ankle. For boots, the legs must also be measured.
The workshop contains about 300 different wooden (and plastic) moulds. The mould is chosen depending on the desired size and style of the shoe.
A template is drawn on paper. It will serve as the pattern for cutting the leather.
It takes one to two weeks to make a single pair of shoes. The work is intense: there are about 300 operations to complete.
Each new shoe is a new invention. Designers come up with the craziest and most diverse models. This makes each result a unique prototype. M.D.R., head of the Leather Workshop
The height of the heel is crucial: it must permit the wearer to perform onstage with ease, be comfortable, and meet safety guidelines.
Shoes can also be reused. The shape of the heel may be modified, but almost never its height!
The nature of the floor of the set must be taken into account so that the shoes don’t stick to the stage, make too much noise, or have poor grip. To avoid slips, the singers often had to walk into a container of rosin before going on stage (the same rosin that is also used to wax the bows of string instruments in the orchestra). These days, non-slip soles are used instead!
Sometimes, a perfect seam means a good day!M.D.R., head of the Leather Workshop
Leatherwork is a precise art: every detail is carefully thought out and brought to completion. Even though the shoes are going to be viewed onstage, from a distance, the finishes are tooled with care. These days, with the importance of live stream, video, photography for social media, the bar has been raised even higher.