Its two days to go to opening night and in the admin offices of Opera North keyboards are furiously tapping. The reason that everything is so frantic is because this Saturday brings the classic opera (the ‘towering masterpiece’ no less!), that is Don Carlos to Leeds Grand Theatre. The build up to a huge opera launch is exhilarating! Never before have I had the opportunity to witness just how much blood sweat and tears are ploughed in behind the scenes.

Today I was given the chance to sit and watch the ‘S & F’ session on the main stage. Yes, I know … S & F stands for ‘Setting & Focusing’ and it relates to the lights rather than the cast. Now I have to admit that at first this didn’t sound like the most riveting of prospects but it was brilliant. I sat in the auditorium in the pitch black (on my own – how brave!) and witnessed what at first made absolutely no sense at all. Men in shorts shouting things and what seemed like a mess of flashing lights. However after a while I think I got the hang of what I was seeing and become somewhat hypnotised by it all. Unless you’ve had the chance to be involved in the complexities of producing an opera I don’t think you could ever believe the sheer amount of work that goes into every little aspect. Lights – you just turn them on and off don’t you? No. There are literally hundreds of individual lamps used and every one has to be tested, focused, sized, coloured, made ‘soft’ or ‘sharp’ and dozens other things that my un-technical brain can’t retain. It was great. If it wasn’t for the constant yells of things like ‘show me one-twenty’, ‘spot it down’ and ‘kill the workers’ (worrying, but not what it sounds like thank goodness!) I could have been watching a piece of visual art.

I’m convinced that my new found knowledge will make my opera watching even more enjoyable and hopefully after reading this you may even spare a thought for the wonder of lighting too.

Roll on Saturday night…

Debbie Wilson
Web Content Editor