Geisha make-up with Jan Ross

Yesterday I had the unique pleasure of attending a “Who’s New in Madison” luncheon at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens on Madison’s East Side. Madison Opera’s Hair and Make-Up Supervisor Jan Ross was the guest speaker, and she was invited to give a demonstration on geisha make-up. You can see how the process unfolded above. (It just so happened that the “Who’s New in Madison” member transformed by Jan was Madison Opera volunteer Martha Abrams.)

Jan has been involved with Madison Opera from the very start, having worked behind-the-scenes at the company’s first full production of La Boheme in the East High School auditorium in 1963. She’s worked with the San Francisco Opera, Indianapolis Opera, and pretty much every performing arts troupe in Madison along the way, but Madison Opera has always been her home. At the luncheon, she walked guests through the make-up process for the geishas in Madama Butterfly, something she’s done professionaly at least eight times! Jan says that geisha make-up is relatively easy, though it can be tricky to create the perfect shapes for the eyes and lips. One of her all-time favorite make-up jobs was doing the broken nose on Rigoletto in the 2006 Madison Opera production (see below), and she also let it be known that the make-up room is the place to be for backstage gossip…

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