9 July 2012
Martin Pakledinaz, 58, Extraordinary, Protean Costume Designer, Has Died
Sterling Heights, MI, September 1, 1953 – New York, NY, July 8, 2012
The artistry of Martin Pakledinaz had an extraordinary impact on the American theater. The costume designs Pakledinaz created for dozens of plays, operas, ballets and dance pieces were the best in the business: for more than three decades, his work illuminated character, educated and entertained audiences and enriched the work of his colleagues. Pakledinaz's range was protean: whether he was working on a big Broadway musical, an obscure Handel opera or a Shakespeare tragedy, his designs were unfailingly accurate and perceptive, informed by his keen eye for detail and charged with wit and compassion.
Educated at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan, Pakledinaz moved to New York City in 1977 and within a few seasons received his first Broadway credit as costume designer, for the short-lived 1981 comedy Inacent Black. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1992, with the clothes for Francesca Zambello's production of Lucia di Lammermoor. He returned to the Met for Stephen Wadsworth's stagings of Rodelinda (2004) and Iphigénie en Tauride (2007) and designed the costumes for Wadsworth's production of The Bartered Bride (2011), presented by Met+Juilliard at the Juilliard School. Pakledinaz also designed costumes for Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, San Diego Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. Paris, Vienna, Salzburg, Madrid and Amsterdam were among the European cities that applauded Pakledinaz's designs.
Wadsworth, who worked with Pakledinaz on many plays and operas over a span of twenty-five years, including Seattle Opera's current Ring, was one of several directors who enjoyed long collaborations with the designer. Other frequent Pakledinaz colleagues included director Mark Morris, for whom Pakledinaz designed The Hard Nut, Sylvia and Romeo and Juliet; Peter Sellars, whose productions of Iolanta, L'Amour de Loin, Adriana Mater and Tristan und Isolde featured Pakledinaz designs; James Robinson, for whom Pakledinaz designed the world premiere of The Golden Ticket at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, as well as a popular and much-traveled staging of L'Elisir d'Amore and several other projects; and Robin Guarino, whose staging of Signor Bruschino for Gotham Chamber Opera was costumed by Pakledinaz.
Pakledinaz's film credits included My Week with Marilyn (2011) and Grand Isle (1991). On Broadway, Pakledinaz's work ranged from Hamlet for the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Roundabout Theater to The Life, a short-lived musical about prostitutes that brought Pakledinaz the first of his ten Tony nominations for best costume design, in 1997. Pakledinaz received the Tony for his designs for Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002) and Kiss Me, Kate (2000); his other Tony nominations were for Nice Work If You Can Get It (2012), Anything Goes (2011), Lend Me A Tenor (2010), Blithe Spirit (2009), Gypsy (2008), The Pajama Game (2006) and Golden Child (1998).
Pakledinaz was a man of great courage. He suffered from brain cancer for the last sixteen months of his life but continued to remain professionally active as long as his health allowed; between the time of his first surgery, in March 2011, and his death, Pakledinaz opened five Broadway shows, a full-length ballet and two operas.
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