Beckie with Placido Domingo, creating his makeup for Rasputin in the premiere of Nicholas and Alexandra at Los Angeles Opera.

Beckie Kravetz began her career as a theatrical mask maker. After training at the Yale School of Drama and working on the premiere of the Peter Sellars Così Fan Tutte, Beckie was hired by the Santa Fe Opera as the principal mask maker for a production of Ariodante featuring Benita Valente and Tatyana Troyanos. While working in the craft shop in Santa Fe, Beckie grew intrigued by the transformations taking place in the wig and makeup room next door. She realized that since opera singers are cast for their voices rather than how they look, opera makeup must often be so extreme that it is like painting masks on real faces . She approached Santa Fe Opera wigmaster Judy Disbrow (of Theatrical Hairgoods in San Francisco) and was hired to assist with wigs and makeup for the opening of the Wortham Center Opera House in Houston. From there, Beckie followed Disbrow to Los Angeles, to work with the fledgling Los Angeles Opera, where she also was asked to be the resident mask maker. By 1990, after a national tour as the wigmaster of the Western Opera Theater (the touring arm of the Merola program from San Francisco Opera), and after seasons at Spoleto USA , Utah Opera, and again at Santa Fe Opera, Beckie returned to Los Angeles to join the staff of LA Opera as a principal makeup artist and the assistant wig-master. During 20 years there, her skills transformed the faces of dozens of singers, including Placido Domingo, Sir Thomas Allen, Carol Vaness, Samuel Ramey, Richard Bernstein, Gerald Finley and Rodney Gilfry. Beckie has worked with directors Franco Zeffirelli, Julie Taymor, Peter Sellars, Stephen Wadsworth, Stephen Lawless, Achim Freyer, Herb Ross, and William Friedkin. She has also designed and created the makeup, masks and wigs for a series of operatic television commercials starring Michael J. Fox and Charles Barkley, as well as masks for commercials featuring Michael Jackson and Madonna.


Beckie with the mask she made for Paul Groves in Achim Freyer’s production of The Damnation of Faust

In 1993, an offer of a solo mask exhibition at Roark Gallery in Los Angeles led to the creation of Beckie’s first series of non-wearable fine art masks. Years of working with actors inspired her to explore the mask’s inner surface: the point of transformation between actor and character. Early works using painting and text on the inside of the face evolved into masks containing three-dimensional tableaus, as can be seen inside the faces of the Sculpted Arias series of opera bronzes. In 1998, the Los Angeles Opera hosted the premiere solo exhibition of Kravetz’s Sculpted Arias at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Select pieces in the series have subsequently been shown at the Metropolitan Opera Gallery, the Tansey Contemporary Gallery (Santa Fe, solo exhibition), Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson MOCA, the Barn Gallery (Lenox, MA), Hathaway Gallery (Oneonta, NY, solo exhibition) and the Seattle Opera Ring gallery. Her sculpture “The Valkyries” was presented to Ellie Caulkins in commemoration of the opening of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver. Other sculptures are in the collections of James Morris, Sir Thomas Allen, Richard Bernstein, and David Cangelosi.

Comments are closed.