Music: Backstage at the Met

Most Americans, forever fascinated by the backstage know-how of the movies,TV, the theater or the circus, know little about how an opera is staged. It is actually an extraordinary exercise in skill, timing and logistics, far more involved than play production. Many opera plots include supernatural happenings and require complicated equipment; what is more, everything from magic fireworks to the basso's whiskers must move according to the music. Technically, one of the most demanding operas is Gounod's Faust, which opened the Metropolitan Opera in 1883. Last week Faust had its 317th Met performance,...

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