A group of 4 schools in Sydney are collaborating to produce an opera; completely dependant upon the students themselves. To produce the libretto, musical score, sets, staging and choreography under the guidance of their school musical teacher. Apparently many of the students had never even seen an opera before, and decided to see La Boehme to give them idea of what it is all about. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for students to discover many new dimensions in creativity they would not otherwise experience.
It also reminded me of two instances many years ago proving how easily things can go wrong even in the most professional opera companies. One instance concerned the use of Great Danes who were fitted with shaggy mains around their necks to make them look like lions. They looked magnificent. It was decided to save time there would be no need for them to join in on the dress rehearsal since all that was required was for them to be led out onto the stage at the required time. Alas on opening night when the dogs were on stage and heard the high music they all simultaneously began howling at the top of their voices; there was no alternative other than to lead the dogs off and close the curtain much to the amusement of the audience l
The second instance concerned a rather nervous soprano making her debut who was unduly concerned about a high note in her aria. This particular production called for stage extra’s who acted as spear carrying warriors under threat they would be sacked by the Producer unless they followed implicitly the directions of the prompt (The prompt sits below the stage and cannot be seen by the audience) who had been given the job of directing them into their required positions on stage.
When the soprano began her Aria the men had already entered the stage and as she continued she fluffed her top “C”. It wasn’t anything so terrible, but the Prompt grimaced and held his hands over his ears in sympathy, to which all of the spear carrying warriors acted simultaneously to the merriment of the audience. The soprano thought they were all laughing at her and tore off the stage in tears, the curtain came down with an ominous thud and after a short interval the opera recommenced. The show must go on!