Student Spotlight - Eugene to Santa Fe

Grigori Malakhov
One of theatre arts major Grigorii Malakhov’s favorite creations is a tailcoat he made for the character Humbug in the University Theatre production of The Phantom Tollbooth

February 28, 2024

From Eugene to the Santa Fe Opera

In a theater production class, Grigorii Malakhov discovered a new passion that has taken him all the way to a world-renowned opera company.
Grigorii working on costume
Malakhov works on a project at the Santa Fe costume shop.

Like most first-year college students, Grigorii Malakhov wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. An international student from Poland, he initially chose the science route—but little did he know that by senior year, he would be making costumes for the Santa Fe Opera.

Malakhov, who began his college education online during the pandemic, didn’t start exploring theater until the University of Oregon campus reopened in 2020. At the suggestion of a friend, he took a theater production class centered on costumes and makeup.

“I was kind of taking it more for makeup because I didn't really think about costumes at all,” Malakhov says. “Once we started doing the costumes and started learning how to sew and all that stuff, I really got into it. I started helping with the costume shop, and helping others with designs and with making clothes too.”

His keen interest led him to get a work-study job in the UO Costume Shop the following year.

He continued to take technical costume classes, where he learned patterning and draping. As his skills improved, he found fulfillment in collaborating with actors and seeing his hard work appear on stage.

With the help of costume shop manager Heather Bair, Malakhov began exploring internship programs outside the university. Last summer, he landed an apprenticeship with the Santa Fe Opera, where he worked as a stitcher apprentice and helped run the backstage wardrobe.

While there, he had the opportunity to make a corselette for the opera Rusalka—one of the pieces he’s most proud of. Turns out, working for the Sante Fe Opera was a dream job for the fourth-year student.

“It's the world-leading opera, so their program is very prestigious,” Malakhov says. “I'm very proud and happy that I was able to participate in that.”

Another of Malakhov’s favorite creations is a tailcoat he made for the character Humbug in the UO’s University Theatre production of The Phantom Tollbooth, which ran in fall 2023.

“There was a lot of learning because there is a lot of knowledge that you have to put into how to organize the internal structure of the jacket,” he says. “There is so much stuff that's inside, like tailor tapes and canvases, that helps it stay stable so a person can move in it.”

Corselet Grigorii is working on.
As a stitcher apprentice for the Santa Fe Opera last summer, Malakhov got to make a corselet for the opera Rusalka.

Under Bair’s guidance, Malakhov has learned how to address the many challenges that arise during the costume-making process. In his first costume design class, while working on a project for the stage, he was using an overlock machine. A piece of fabric got caught underneath and the blade cut through it, ruining the fabric.

Malakhov was stressed to the verge of tears over the mistake, but Bair calmly helped him figure out how to make it work.

“I'm very grateful to have people like Heather, who are very encouraging and supportive and who are true educators. She's not scared to tell you to re-do something, and she's not scared to help you fix something,” he says. “I feel like the atmosphere in the department also helped me get to the point where I am right now.”

After graduation, Malakhov plans to pursue an MFA in costume design and technology. He also hopes to apprentice again over the summer.

“One day I really want to work for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, once I reach that level,” he says.

—Harper Wells (public relations, ’26) is a communications intern for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Peek Inside the UO Costume Shop

Theatre arts junior Annika McNair offers a glimpse of the inner workings of the UO Costume Shop 
during preparations for the new production of Antigone.