My Opera Job - Carole Dunne

Wednesday, 20 November, 2019

Opera is a transformational art form, and no where is the transformation more evident than in the hair and make-up department. We caught up with hair, wigs and make-up supervisor Carole Dunne, to discover more about her opera job.


Can you describe your job in a nutshell?

My job as Hair, Wigs and Makeup Supervisor is to make sure everyone looks as they should on stage to tell the story. First I meet with a designer and we chat about the look of the opera and the characters in the opera. Then we will take into account the singer's own hair and face and decide if they need a wig or facial hair, or for fantasy anything else like a bigger nose or pointy ears. I do fittings with the singers to make sure the look is right and the singer is happy with the look and able to sing and perform with the look. Then, during technical rehearsals the finer details are worked out.

How did you get to be working in opera?

I was working doing hair and wigs for film and television. I had done a make-up course and I got a call to do Wexford Festival Opera. It's just gone on from there.

What’s an average day in your job look like?

We redress the wigs every day so as they look perfect every night. We start wigs, hair and make-up about 2 hours before curtain up and we will be side of stage for any quick changes during the performance. When the show is over we help with the removal of wigs and make-up. We then clean and block the wigs and facial hair ready to redress the next day.

What’s the most challenging thing about your job?

I think packing and unpacking all my equipment making sure I have everything needed especially when I am travelling for a job. There are so many things needed and every job is different.


What’s the most fun thing about your job?

Creating!! I love the artistic freedom I have.

What’s one thing about your job people mightn’t expect?

That I have a wig oven to really set the styles so they last longer!


What’s your favourite thing about working in opera?

The amazing people and seeing the magic on stage. I have such a great team.

What’s your least favourite thing about working in opera?

I don't really have a least favourite thing! At a push, I'd have to say tech week. Once we finally get into the theatre for tech the pressure ramps up. It's a long, hard week's work, but ultimately very rewarding.


What’s your favourite opera?

Well, I have totally loved working on Cinderella. The show, design, cast, crew everything about it!

Watch Carol's Work Come to Life in our recent production of 'Cinderella'