Building a New Production
A conversation between Dir of Production John Gage and Suzanne Calvin, Assoc Dir of Marketing.
Calvin: Let's talk about the process of building a new production - you're there from the "git go."
Gage: It's lengthy and tedious but always interesting. Karen (Stone) and Plato before her will have a vision of a new production, for instance, last year's production of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci. With the Dir of Artistic Admin Jonathan Pell, she will make contact with a director and discuss possible design teams who do work that we find significant or in some way, special, to come to Dallas. Next, there are discussions between the director and designers (costumes, lighting and so forth) about the look of the piece. They will then come back to us with sketches and descriptions that indicate what
they have in mind and it's up to the general director to say, "Yes, I buy into that concept. Run with it. And, by the way, here's how much money we have to spend." At that point, the designer will get busy and construct a scale model of the proposed set design; the model for our new production of Verdi's Nabucco is absolutely huge...
Calvin: And one heck of a design, I hear.
Gage: The model is very detailed, you can really see what's going on. Next, we take it to the scenery shop to find out what it's going to cost us to manufacture. Remember, this isn't like building a house. This has to be built so that it functions onstage but then it also has to dismantle so it can go into storage or fit into trucks for transport to another opera company in some other part of the world. If the design comes in under budget...
Calvin: Gee, how often does that happen?
Gage: Not very often. But when it does we can go back to the designer and say if you have any other "bells and whistles" you'd like to add, go right ahead. More often than not, we decide it's going to cost twenty or thirty or forty thousand more than we have to spend, so our task is to figure out ways to keep the look of the production, while cutting corners to bring it in on budget. This can mean changing production materials, using paints instead of dyes, wood instead of steel and so forth. Read the entire of the interview.