Parlando: The COC Blog


Behind the Scenes With Barney: Death in Venice ORCA

[This is a guest post from Barney Bayliss, associate technical director. This post was written Oct. 4]

Tonight is the first Cast and Orchestra rehearsal of Death in Venice. We call them ORCAs, and there are usually three of them for each show. For the first time, the director has to take a back seat while Maestro (the conductor) runs the whole rehearsal, starting and stopping where he wants, giving the orchestra, chorus, and soloists notes as he goes. Maestro Bedford has decided to concentrate on the first half of the opera tonight, so we won’t get to the act change.

Aida opened on Saturday. The show ran well, and that is a relief to me. It has several challenging scene changes, and the intermission change is hard to get done in 25 minutes.

Two weeks ago today, we had the Aida set built onstage and were getting ready to rehearse the first two Acts for the first time onstage. That rehearsal did not go well. Transitions that worked in the rehearsal room became impossible because of masking and lighting equipment getting in the way. The huge curtains that are an integral part of the design of the show, designer and director were not happy with the paint finishes, and we had a lot of practising to do before we could make the scene changes work smoothly. For the next six days I would have a crew of painters and carpenters from the scene shop working at the theatre every available hour to get through the pile of notes.  


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Behind the Scenes With Barney: Opening Night!

[This is the second guest post from Barney Bayliss, associate technical cirector. The post was written Oct. 2]

Today is opening night for Aida, plus it’s my birthday, Nuit Blanche, and we get a day off tomorrow. So it’s a good day for me.

The curtain is about to go up. We have been working since 8 in the morning to clear the Death in Venice set and finish all the notes on Aida.

Yesterday’s Piano Dress for Death in Venice went very well. In a later post, I will talk about the down side of doing a show with real water.

To continue with my story of the Fall 2010 load in, on the Monday after our Ben Heppner recital, we returned to working on the Death in Venice set on stage. We had a plan to get most of the lighting focus done before we had to send the scenery away to the rehearsal hall on Front St. for two weeks of rehearsals. So we spend two days focusing. To focus a show, each light has to be turned on individually, accessed by a crew member, and focused according to the lighting designer’s instructions. Colour, diffusion, and patterns are added at this time.   


Posted by Barney Bayliss / in Behind the Scenes / comments (1) / permalink


Behind the Scenes with Barney

[This is a guest post by Barney Bayliss, associate technical director. Coming up is a series of blog posts from Barney documenting the process, from a technical perspective, of getting our fall operas ready for the stage.]

I am Barney Bayliss, associate technical director at the COC. I have worked here for 19 years.

Friday (Oct. 1) was the Piano Dress rehearsal of Death in Venice. Saturday (Oct. 2) is opening night for Aida. Opening night marked the end of our fourth week in the theatre preparing these two shows. It started with the LX [lighting design] prep, then a couple of days of equipment maintenance, and installation of some special rigging equipment needed for Aida. LX prep is when every lighting instrument, cable, adapter, power supply, etc. needed for both shows is sourced, prepared, labelled, and hung on a rack ready for the load in. It takes about a week. Our LX prep for the fall season started when Dancap was still doing performances of South Pacific on our stage.

Then we loaded in the Aida bridge. The Aida bridge is the largest piece of flying scenery we have ever built. Its footprint is larger than my house, and it weighs 5.5 tons. For the first half of Aida, the bridge acts as a ceiling for the set.  In act IV scene i, it flies in to the deck, and becomes a corridor in a prison. Then in the next scene it flies half way out again, with Amneris aboard, to reveal a tomb underneath. In order to fly the bridge safely, we rented variable speed chain hoists from a Quebec company called Show Distribution. Check out their website for all kinds of clips of things flying around.

Here's a video of the Aida bridge being lifted:

At the end of our first week, we spent a day with the Death in Venice set, laying it out on our stage.

Then, on Sept. 11, we presented an afternoon recital with Ben Heppner.  Piece of cake.

Posted by Barney Bayliss / in Behind the Scenes / comments (4) / permalink

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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001



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