Behind the Scenes

Did you know that it takes over 150 people to create an ETO production, and it is normally over two years from conception to the time the production appears on stage? The challenges and complexity of putting an opera together are fascinating enough to make the backdrop of an opera in its own right. Here, we thought we’d give you an insight into what goes on backstage by answering some of the questions we often get asked.

What sort of people are involved?

There is a large range of people involved including directors, designers, lighting designers, costume makers, set-builders, painters, marketeers, fundraisers, administrators, electricians, stage managers, carpenters and the singers, conductors and musicians you hear perform at the show. Every individual has their own unique background and story of how they came to be where they are, but each is committed to making the best possible production they can.

What happens during the day?

The technical team arrive normally arrive around 9am, it takes an hour to take down the previous night’s set, 2-3 hours to put the new set up, and then 3-4 hours to get the lighting perfect – see the high speed video attached to get a feel for what is needed. At the same time, wardrobe are cleaning and preparing all the costumes and at some point during the day the stage managers arrive to prepare all the props and dressing rooms. At 5.20, we have a short rehearsal with the orchestra and singers to ensure the right balance with the theatre’s acoustic, rehearse any covers if there is illness, and then there is a short time to prepare the stage before the theatre opens its doors.
Some artists will be involved with our education work during the day. Others will be preparing for the next roles – with so much to put together it is essential they know their music by heart by the first day of their next rehearsal. Occasionally, they get to rest and enjoy the towns they are visiting.

How do you choose the repertoire?

There are many factors to consider. We try to get a balance between the different productions to offer a range of experiences for audience members, we have to find works that fit into the various theatres we tour to (some orchestra pits are cosy to say the least), we find out which artists are available and what roles would most suit them. There are naturally marketing and financial considerations across the season, but the fundamental factor is that it will be something that English Touring Opera can do particularly well.

Where do you all stay, how do you get around?

At any one time we can have up to 80 people on the road. They stay in hotels, B&Bs, rooms in private houses and with friends, depending on the individual and the town. Quite often members of the company team up to share lifts and rent places together to make the most of the touring experience.

If you have any other questions, do fill in the comment box below. We will try and keep this page up date with those that are most regularly asked.

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