Tag Archives: Metropolitan Opera

Mid Weekend Links

The Power of Gold – Propnomicon shares this great video from Brazen and Bold about painting an aged metal finish using spray paint, acrylics, and an airbrush.

Flashlight Museum – The next time someone questions the historical accuracy of the flashlight you put in the show, send them to this museum. They have over 3700 images of flashlights from the dawn of flashlight history to the present.

One of the Toughest (Silent) Jobs at the Met Opera – The New York Times looks into life as a spotlight operator at the Met. Sure, it’s not props, but it’s nice to see a major newspaper acknowledge one of our backstage companions. Plus, many of us have probably run spot at some point in our career.

Alien Covenant’s Armor, Weapons, and Blood Effects! – Adam Savage takes a look at all the cool props and practical effects in the upcoming Alien film.

The Stage Hands’ Story, 1903

The following comes from the May 3, 1903 issue of The St. Paul Globe:

When the curtain drops at the close of every act of a drama or opera it is the signal for the players to rush for their dressing rooms, some of the men in the audience to troop up the aisles in search of—a change of air, and the women to chat and—possibly to note what the other women are wearing.

But there is another class of individuals for whom the falling of the curtain means business, and the liveliest kind of business at that. They are the “stage hands.”

As the curtain strikes the floor a stentorian voice cries:


“Strike!” echoes another equally robust voice, and instantly there is a commotion on that stage that would bewilder a bystander, if he were permitted there at such a time—which he is not.

The first voice is that of the stage manager of the company playing at the theater. The second is that of the stage carpenter attached to the house. The commotion is the scurrying about of the stage hands, the property men and the electricians whose duty it is to clear the stage with the greatest possible celerity of all scenery, furniture and lighting paraphernalia that encumbers it. For perhaps the first act presented a street in a large city or the parlor of a rich man’s mansion, and the second is to picture a country lane or the wretched hovel of the poor but virtuous. Hence this bustle.

James Robertson
James Robertson

Continue reading The Stage Hands’ Story, 1903

No Fooling with These Stories

Cinefex has a very awesome and very thorough look at the use of puppets in cinema.  They cover the history from 1906’s The Witch all the way up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The article also features interviews with a whole bunch of practical effects artists using puppets in film.

“Once you have the basic set of tools and know how to use them, your work will dictate the specialty tools you might need.” Chris Schwartz reminds us that the most common tools are the most useful. Rare tools are rare either because they are commercial failures or they have highly specialized uses. When buying your tools, be sure you have the ability to do the tasks you do on a daily or weekly basis before you buy the tools that you will only use once a year.

The New York Times takes us backstage at the Metropolitan Opera in this fantastic photo essay showing the lead up to the first performance of Roberto Devereux.

The Daily Record takes a glimpse into the props stock at Central Washington University. They talk with David Barnett, who runs the stock and props the shows, as well as Marc Haniuk, who teaches a props class every year.

Yahoo TV talks with John Sanders, prop master on The Walking Dead, to learn more about Daryl Dixon’s motorcycle on the show. They claim it’s “everything you need to know”; I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s certainly all you could possibly care to know.

Grand Opera Beyond the Curtain Line, 1915

The following originally appeared in a 1915 issue of Theatre Magazine:

Grand Opera Beyond the Curtain Line

by Mercy Gorham

“Every night is a first night with us,” observed Edward Siedle, Technical Director of the Metropolitan Opera House, as he watched a scene “break” in “Koenigskinder.” He stood talking of that mysterious realm beyond the footlights, always an enigma to the average operagoer, and he talked entertainingly, too, as a man is apt to do when his work is his hobby…

“I suppose the ‘property’ department is most popular with the laity, doubtless because it is better understood than the rest. It is a very important division, too, as will be seen when one takes into consideration the enormous number of properties used in all the operas and the vital importance of each in its turn. Take the matter of floor coverings alone, such as carpets, medallions and stage cloths, for in every scene the stage is covered with a cloth in keeping with the ensemble, and one can compass in a small measure the enormous amount of material there is to be cared for.

“Each scene calls for its own equipment. If it is a garden then there is earth and grass, benches and marbles to be provided. A street scene calls for paved ways; palaces for tesselated floors; the small parlor for its hard-wood floors and modern rugs and carpets; doors and windows for curtains and draperies; tables for pedestals and bric-a-brac; gardens for trees and flowers and rock scenes for their practical rocks.

“As the scenes of operas are laid in every part of the world, there must be a great variety of settings provided. Not a few illustrate mythological subjects, while others are Oriental in spirit. The properties of each require not only care in the handling, but a lot of research, trouble and expense in the making. These have all to be listed in their plots, showing precisely where they are placed when on the stage. Those not on the stage, but which are brought on during the performance, must also be carefully marked on the plot.”

Gorham, Mercy. “Grand Opera Beyond the Curtain Line.” The Theatre Magazine Jan. 1915: 21. Google Books. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

Welcome, Links of 2016

The New York Times’ Vocations column interviewed James Blumenfeld, the props master at the Met Opera. He runs a staff of 35(!) and has been there since 1983.

The Algoma Mop Manufacturers were pressed into service to make the 500 mops needed for David O. Russell’s latest film, Joy. They had one of the few machines needed to recreate the Miracle Mops from the 1990s that figure so prominently in the film.

And since we’re talking about Joy, how about this article on creating the vintage singles’ ads from the movie? Ross MacDonald also made the children’s book that appears in the film.

Sticking with Ross, he has a whole lot of information on his latest props; he made tons of vintage packaging and paper props for The Hateful Eight, Tarantino’s latest film. He also designed the vintage packaging for Red Apple Tobacco, Tarantino’s signature brand that appears in all of his films. You can read more about that in my interview with him last year.

The Rosco Blog shows how Techland Houston made a foam model of the Starship Enterprise. Just in time for The Force Awakens!

Fox 12 in Portland catches up with Portland prop master Greg McMickle. McMickle is currently the props master for The Librarians, but his work has also been seen in the Twilight franchise, Wild, and Twin Peaks.