Backstage Pass: Opera house excites with more than just singing


Backstage Pass: Opera house excites with more than just singing


Date: January 22, 2014
by: Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor


The polar vortex delayed the winter opera season. Blizzards around the country postponed more than a few of the 52 singers the Sarasota Opera employs. So, they started preparing one day later than planned, beginning Jan. 10.

Winter opera season is exciting. It means four operas (“Il Trovatore,” “The Barber of Seville,” “The Flying Dutchman” and “Jérusalem”) will take place simultaneously in March. Which also means the work that goes into preparing for the four productions happens simultaneously.

A group of men haul in set pieces for “Jérusalem” — they’re recycling a few pieces from past productions of “Lombardi” and “Giovanna d’Arco.” It takes eight of them to hoist up one wall and get it in place on stage. They’ll lug sets from the loading dock in through the hall all day.

Nearby, situated down a hallway off one wing of the stage, a handful of people prepare the props. One man creates an animal-skin canteen while another works on a larger wagon prop.

Upstairs in the adjacent building, every rehearsal room and studio is full. Singers find whatever quiet space they can to study music between rehearsals. One sits at the top of the stairs closest to the box office, another holds court in the middle of a hallway, and one perches against a back wall of a studio while a meeting takes place.

Singing drones through the corridor and down to the offices where the stage manager and assistant stage manager plan the technical details of the production.

Down another set of stairs, racks of costumes act as breadcrumbs to the costume shop. Each one is labeled with an actor’s name, the production name and the scene. It’s a little quieter in that office, while the costume makers cut forms, sew breeches and fit the singers.

But the professionals at the opera house are not the only ones excited for the next two months. Just outside the double doors where all the action takes place, there is a line of locals at the box office waiting to buy their tickets.

For more photos, click here.

‘Il Travotore’ runs from Feb. 8 through March 22.
‘The Barber of Seville’ runs from Feb. 15 through March 21.
‘The Flying Dutchman’ runs from March 1 through March 23.
‘Jérusalem’ runs from March 8 through March 22.

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