Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hair, the Long and Short of It

Today's entry is a tribute to NINA LAWSON, the Met's Hair and Wig Stylist from 1956 until her retirement in 1988. Sadly, Nina died September 9th after a long illness. She lived in Scotland. In speaking to people with whom she worked the reaction has been, "Oh, sweet Nina". She was deeply loved.

The curtain goes up and the audience is drawn into the drama, the story, the glory of the human voice, pretty sets and costumes. The hair seems to be taken for granted, a given, but stage hair is not easy. The singer has to be comfortable, can't feel overheated or itchy. The singer may be thrown around the stage. The hair can't fall off. The singer may be transformed from healthy to ill, taking off one layer of hair to reveal another layer. Sometimes the singer plays the opposite sex. Long hair, short hair, stylized hair, hair to be grabbed as a form of punishment, Nina dealt with it all. She knew how to make the singers comfortable, how to listen to confidences and keep them private, how to select the correct materials for the wigs, how to deal with super egos, how to stand up for control when necessary, how to be calm and patient when emotions were flying.

It is impossible to post a thousand wig pictures, so I've selected a few to show how the hair suits the operatic character. The pictures are not about the "stars". The long and short of it is the mastery of the hair.

Nina was a delight, a true artist and a treasured friend to many.

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