20000 Objects in Opera Property Room, part 4, 1912

The following is the fourth portion of an article which first appeared in the New York Sun in 1912. You can catch up on the first part, the second part and the third part.

Fans too! Of course there must be real Japanese fans for “Butterfly,” and these are easily secured. For “Carmen,” however, it isn’t always a simple matter to find just the right thing. It must be a large fan painted with scenes of bull fights.

Last year the property man was down in Mexico, and seeing a lot of fans which were just the right thing and cheap too, he laid in a liberal supply. The Metropolitan company hasn’t given “Carmen” since, but when it does the fans will be ready.

In “La Gioconda” the ballet dancers representing the noon hours have fans of an unusual design. And in “Donne Curiose” Geraldine Farrar carries a small fan, but it is her own. She is said to be the only Metropolitan artist, by the way, who provides her own properties. She does it from choice. The only “prop” she does not furnish is the dagger with which she kills herself in “Butterfly.” The only other artist who provides any of the props (except some that have their own swords) is Emmy Destinn, who in the last act of “La Gioconda” uses her own dagger and her own basket of flowers.

“You would think,” said the property man, “that they would rather furnish certain small articles, such as eyeglasses or watch fobs. They could keep them with the costumes with which they should be worn.

“Sometimes they must have a key or some coins or a purse in their pocket, and you would think they might keep these themselves. But they don’t. Of course you can understand why. It would make them responsible for having the thing when it was needed on the stage.

“As it is, the property man has to see that the key is in the artist’s pocket, that he has his eyeglasses or lorgnette (just the right pair too), his purse or loose coins or dagger, or poison vial, or ring, or whatever he is going to use. If he or she, as in “Tosca,” is to carry a walking stick, we must hand it out and not make any mistake about it either. Not such a simple matter when you realize that we have about fifty of these sticks of different designs.”

This article will continue in a later post. It was originally published in the New York Sun, February 25, 1912, page 16.