Costume Design - Drury Lane Design Collection
Object: Costume Design
Date: 1907 (designed)
Artist/Maker: Comelli, Attilio, born 1858 - died 1925 (designer).
Public access description
Costume design by Comelli labelled ‘8 Gypsy Girls’ in Babes in the Wood, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, 1907. Babes in the Wood is based on an old English ballad from 1595, called ‘The Children in the Wood’ or ‘The Norfolk Gentleman’s Last Will and Testament’. It was first staged in 1793 as an opera called, The Children in the Wood, at the Haymarket Theatre. The story emerged again at Drury Lane Theatre in 1827 entitled Harlequin and Cock Robin or The Babes in the Wood, with a finale that included tightrope walking. In 1897
Babes in the Wood was produced at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane with Music Hall stars Dan Leno and Herbert Campbell as the babes, a
shock to those used to the tradition that the babes are played by children or young actors. In the 1907 production (produced by Arthur Collins and J.Hickory Wood) the ‘babes’ were played by Miss Marie George and Mr.Walter Passmore and the music was composed by J.M.Glover.
Comelli (1858-1925) was the house designer of the Royal Opera House from the late 1880s to the early 1920s. During this period he also worked for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and also designed costumes from a number of Gilbert&Sullivan productions. This design comes from a collection of costume designs, some of which are costumier’s copies, which were originally part of the Archives of
the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
Descriptive line Costume design by Comelli labelled ‘8 Gypsy Girls’ in Babes in the Wood, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, 1907. Drury Lane Design Collection.
Costume design by Comelli labelled ‘8 Gypsy Girls’ in Babes in the Wood, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, 1907. A watercolour costume sketch shows two women both wearing loose flowing dresses made from layers of yellow, brown, blue/green and yellow/green. Both have dark black hair and large hoop earrings. The figure on the right is shown in profile and leans on the wooden staff she grasps in her left hand. She wears a blue/green scarf over her hair, held in place by a pale yellow band. The figure on the right wears a wide pale orange hat decorated with a spray of green feathers or leaves. She too carries a staff which she holds in her left hand. Both women wear leather strap sandals. The sketch is signed and dated Comelli, 1907.