Chicago’s Lyric Opera hosts costume sale

Looking for a Halloween costume? Chicago’s Lyric Opera is selling about 3,000 pieces from its handmade costume wardrobe to the public. Prices range from $1 - $200, and some of the garments are nearly 100 years old.

September 4, 2014

Lauren Chooljian and Andrew Gill

Already on the lookout for a Halloween costume? Or possibly your next Comic Con or Renaissance Faire outfit? The Lyric Opera of Chicago has got your back.

This Saturday marks only the second time in Lyric history that the company will be selling some 3,000 pieces of their handmade costume collection to the public. Costume Director Maureen Reilly said the Lyric doesn’t have enough room in their storage for all of the costumes - some dating back almost 100 years.

Some costumes, she said, have even become a bit repetitive.

“I think our Madame Butterfly and our Boehme are really gorgeous, but they’re 30 and 40 years old. So if you’ve been a season subscriber since you’ve been 20 or something, you’ve seen the same Boehme every 10 years or 8 years, so you want something new and different,” Reilly said.

Prices range from $1 to $200, but Reilly said most garments are actually worth thousands of dollars. Some of the costumes come from as far away as Europe, while others were made in the United States. Shoppers will find items from operas like Pirates of Penzance, Voyages of Edgar Allen Poe, Anna Bolena, Otello, Flying Dutchman, Rigoletto, Don Carlo and more.

The last and only other time the Lyric held a sale like this was in 2004, when the company’s warehouse in Pilsen was sold. They sold around the same amount of costumes, and brought in nearly $77,000. All the money goes back to the Lyric Opera.

This weekend’s sale will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Grand Foyer of the Civic Opera House.

Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ reporter. Follow her at @laurenchooljian.

Andrew Gill is a WBEZ web producer. Follow him @andrewgill