Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Backstage Tour and Turkey Prep for Falstaff at the LA Opera

Being a blogger has some perks, like being invited to cool experiences I normally wouldn't get. Recently I had a backstage tour of the LA Opera to talk about the food preparation for their current performance, Falstaff. Falstaff is a comedic opera by Giuseppe Verdi and is an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and some scenes from Henry IV. Gluttony is one of the major themes, hence the food preparation!

Lots of cool props from previous operas
We first made our way to the stage. On the stage, that is! It's quite something to be standing on the stage looking at all those seats.
We chatted with the director, Lee Blakeley, about the opera and the various food items he decided to include in the production (although his request for the Yorkshire Parkin cake got replace with a Trader Joe's gingerbread cake, they look close enough from the audience seats). While it's an Italian opera, since it's based on a Shakespeare play he decided to keep everything true to the Shakespeare era. The two towers that appear on stage are a nod to the Globe Theatre.

Seeing everything up close was a pretty neat experience.

So, director Blakeley decided to use turkey in the production because turkey is uncommon and luxurious at that time. He wanted Falstaff to order turkey to show how the character likes to display wealth and high status. There's a scene where a couple of the actors made a trade using a turkey leg, which gets eaten, so they need to prepare a real turkey. This is a real turkey which took 5 hours of preparation time! Yep, they have to make one for every show.
In keeping with the food theme, they constructed scary faces using plastic fruits, vegetables, and other things.

The giant tree mimics Falstaff in that it cannot hold its own weight.

We also met the singer who plays Alice Ford, Carmen Giannattasio. Turns out she has a food blog in Italy, too!

After a quick chat with James Conlon, we were all allowed to watch their very first dress rehearsal.

It's not every day I get to sit this close to the stage!

I actually had already purchased tickets to their opening night before I was invited to the backstage tour, so it worked out perfectly. It was even cooler to see the show after talking to the director and singers and standing on stage. Falstaff is a fun show. If you like Shakespeare comedies you will enjoy this opera!


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