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Backstage Video: 48-Hour Time-lapse at the Metropolitan Opera

Stage Directions • Theatre Buzz • November 13, 2019

The Metropolitan Opera does amazing technical feats as a matter of course, but this season, things got even more logistically complex when the company began the first regular Sunday matinees in its history. The new schedule means that the Met sometimes mounts four different productions in the 48 hours between Friday and Sunday evening—a truly herculean task that the company performs on a scale that is unusual, if not unique, in the world. Here’s a great time-lapse video of the set changeover as well as photos of props, costumes, wigs, etc as they load out La Bohème and then rotate through loading-in Madama Butterfly, Turandot, Manon, and Orfeo ed Euridice:

Here are some excerpts from a New York Times article on the Met from October 25, 2019, World Opera Day: “I would say we’re alone in this mad pursuit,” Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said on a recent Friday afternoon, as the marathon was about to begin.

Four casts got in and out of 718 costumes over the weekend, with the help of 37 dressers. They wore 201 wigs that had each been prepared—and in some cases rewashed, curled and reset—by hair and makeup artists. A stage crew of 178 was needed each day to build, move, and strike the mammoth sets, which are so huge that the Met measures their volume by the number of 40-foot truck containers it takes to store them: Madama Butterfly is 14 truckloads; Turandot, a whopping 26; Manon, 13; and Orfeo ed Euridice, 12.

Finding space backstage is like playing one of those sliding tile games. “It often feels like we’re playing that game,” said David Feheley, the Met’s technical director. “But we don’t have the empty square.”


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