“Good-bye” to the Legendary Peter J. Hall

by Suzanne Calvin

Peter J. Hall, the Resident Costume Designer for the Dallas Opera and a renowned theatrical designer and artist known throughout the world, died Thursday, May 27th in Dallas from cardiac complications following a prolonged illness. He was 84 years old.

Born in Bristol, England, Mr. Hall showed an early interest in theater, pursuing his dream in London after serving in the British Army during World War II. According to Mr. Hall, he landed a job as an assistant stage manager for a new musical on his first day job-hunting and began to design sets and costumes shortly thereafter.

Mr. Hall worked in the 1950s with celebrated director/designer Franco Zeffirelli on a production of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden where, Peter said, “I made all the hats.” Their creative collaboration led Mr. Hall to Italy, where he constructed and designed costumes for the Dallas Civic Opera until urged by Dallas Opera co-founders Larry Kelly and Nicola Rescigno to open a permanent costume shop in Dallas.

Mr. Hall designed sets and costumes for more than seventy Dallas Opera productions since Il barbiere di Siviglia in 1962 (prior to that time, Mr. Hall supervised costumes for the company). He also designed costumes for New York’s Metropolitan Opera where he served as Resident Costume Designer for eleven seasons; for The Royal Opera House, London; Vienna State Opera; La Scala, Milan; Kirov Opera in St. Petersburg; the Sydney Opera; the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera and Los Angeles Music Center. Recent highlights include Ariadne auf Naxos (Dallas Opera); Simon Boccanegra (San Francisco); Otello in South Korea and Stiffelio for Teatro Nuovo in Argentina. He also designed theatrical productions at The National Theatre, London and for The Royal Shakespeare Company.

Mr. Hall’s phenomenal talent made him the choice of an exclusive clientele that included Luciano Pavarotti, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Plácido Domingo, Dame Joan Sutherland, Dame Judi Dench, David Bowie, Renata Scotto, Marilyn Horne, Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Elizabeth Taylor. Peter Hall was honored with awards from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for costumes featured on “Live from the Met.” He was also the recipient of Italy’s Paladino d’Oro Award, winner of a “Best Foreign Designer Award” in Argentina, and the star of a 1999 “Tribute to Peter J. Hall” presented by The Women’s Board of the Dallas Opera.

One of the most highly respected and universally-loved members of the Dallas Opera family, Peter J. Hall’s courtly manner, charming smile, keen eye and keener wit will be sorely missed.

A memorial service is pending and will be announced at a later time. Donations in Peter J. Hall’s honor may be made to either the Dallas Opera or to your local office of the SPCA.

In addition to local stories on his passing, “The New York Times” has now published Peter’s obituary with additional comments and details.

5 Responses to “Good-bye” to the Legendary Peter J. Hall

Harry Silverstein says: July 26, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Such a wonderful designer. Such a true gentleman. I will miss him. Opera will miss him.

fred winkler says: June 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Peter had a dry wit and compassion and gentleness for others;especially us in the chorus! I remember he showed professional concern and tenderness when I was mending from a broken ankle! Peter;God Bless you and you will be sorely missed!

Joyce Saenz Harris says: June 5, 2010 at 11:36 am

In 1995 I had the privilege of profiling Peter for the Dallas Morning News’s High Profile section. He was one of the most delightful people I’ve ever known, and he made the world a richer, more beautiful place — and a happier one. God bless you, Peter, and rest in peace.

Kyle Hancock says: June 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm

This is such sad news.

Peter Hall kept people at The Dallas Opera–and throughout the opera world–looking more glamorous than we knew we could look.

When I wore a Peter Hall creation I knew I was wearing something very special. Every garment was a jewel.

We shall miss you very, very much, Peter.