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Published: 06 November 2021

By Andy Ross

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Silk and music

The use of silk for marketing once gave a cachet to theatre and opera productions.

Silk, with its unique qualities, would have given a sheen to any theatre production, and printed programmes on the fabric were often given as souvenirs and keepsakes. Being printed on silk would have meant that not only would the article have folded up neatly (and small), but it would not have rustled during the performance, as paper programmes would have done. 

This printed programme from a 1978 production of opera and ballet at the Coliseum in London's West End features the dances from Benjamin Britten's Gloriana, the opera he wrote  in 1953 for celebrations of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The opera had its first performance at the Royal Opera House on 8 June of that year, in the presence of The Queen, just six days into her reign.