Dress to invest

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The Independent Culture
For her spectacular farewell to the operatic stage during a performance of Die Fledermaus at Covent Garden, Joan Sutherland wore a mountainous, shimmering green gown. Well, less of a gown really, more of a creation. Dame Joan, or La Stupenda as s he became known, has now decided to sell off her frocks. "I hate to part with them but I like to think that they will be bought by people who will treasure and preserve them for a wider audience of opera fans." Given the enormous affection in which she i s held, that is likely to be an understatement. Choose between a magnificent 1840s-style burgundy velvet costume studded with pendant jet beads, faux rubies and steel grey sequins for Zeffirelli's La Traviata, or better still, the 1959 Lucia di Lammermoo r costume (with or without the blood from the mad scene?) in which she became a star, literally overnight. All that and other memorabilia including an unpublished Rossini manuscript. Some schmuck at Christie's New York estimated that £50 was a good price for a pair of Rudolf Nureyev's ballet slippers. Funnily enough, they went for £4,803. The estimate for the entire Sutherland sale is £250,000. They cannot be serious.

9 Feb, Sotheby's, 34/35 New Bond St, W1 (071-493 8080)

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