Sophie Leach is a Deputy Stage Manager at Glyndebourne. At the Glyndebourne Festival 2013 she took us into the inner workings of an opera company in full swing.
Sophie was born in Liverpool, and studied Stage Management specialising in Opera at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Recent shows as a DSM at Glyndebourne include; Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Rinaldo, Turn of the Screw, Billy Budd, Giulio Cesare, Tristan und Isolde, andHänsel und Gretel, to name but a few!
When she is not at the prompt desk, she is usually to be found throwing herself down a mountain on a snowboard, cycling around the South Downs, or at the beach.
Sophie joined Glyndebourne as an Assistant Stage Manager in September 2000.
Festival 13 Blog: 10th June 2013
Blink, and you’ll miss it.
I swear it feels like we only started Falstaff rehearsals a few weeks ago, but already Ariadne and Falstaff are half way through their runs, Figaro has opened, Hippolyte has started stage rehearsals, and Don Pasquale is about to start production in the rehearsal room. Madness if you ask me!
Speaking of madness, I spent a bit of this morning in the circle watching Hippo (as we affectionately have dubbed it) rehearse, and although I can’t divulge any secrets, it is gloriously wacky and I can’t wait to see the Final Rehearsal!
!! Now, there has been a bit of interest on twitter and various online reviews about the cats in Falstaff , and I did promise to write a little bit about them.
Firstly, they are not animatronic, they are puppets, and there is a real live person making them work.
When the production was new, Claire (our other DSM) was operating them, and she was given a master class in the art by the man who made the Sooty, Sweep and Sue puppets! In order to operate the cats, you have to be quite flexible and able to contort yourself into small spaces. Luckily each scene is relatively short for opera! The picture below shows the working space for Alan, the Garter Inn cat. On the left is a cue sheet showing the main cues that I give to Chris, the ASM who is the operator this year. The list will also give extra information such as when to breathe, lick your paws or flick your tail.
In the middle is a monitor that shows a close up of Alan and the area around him. This helps Chris know who he is looking at, especially as Alan and Falstaff have a few moments together.
On the right, you can see the sleeve that allows access to Alan’s insides, and the metal stick that controls his tail. The big grey cat that lives in Ford’s house is called Tallulah, and she has a bit of attitude, whereas Alan is quite chilled out!
The controls are very similar, except she can stretch her front paws out and also stand up. Her tail is also more mobile.
Once the show is over, Alan and Tallulah retire to their apartments and rest up until the next one! I hope this has answered some of your questions about how things work, and you can ask more via the comment page or the@glyndebournetwitter feed.
Festival 13 Blog: 8th May 2013
It really doesn’t feel like five months since we finished the tour, but quite a lot of activity has been taking place here.Although I wasn’t working on it, I was able to attend the final rehearsal of the community opera Imago , and really enjoyed it. It certainly brought a bit of brightness to the very long winter. As little as six weeks ago, we were standing in waist high snow drifts on the top of the downs, and a few days ago we were basking in beautiful sunshine. However, the weather Gods have turned again, and today we are sitting in fog and drizzle. Fingers crossed for a better summer than last year!
So, what does this year’s festival have in store for us? I can promise fire and blood, lots of dancing, definitely more helium balloons, cabbages and other vegetables, flowers and fairy wings.
Yesterday we had the piano dress for Falstaff , and today sees the first stage and orchestra for Ariadne auf Naxos . Figaro is into week two of rehearsals, and next week the Hippolyte et Aricie cast arrive for a few days of music calls before starting production. Things seem to be moving faster than ever, but it’s brilliant to have old friends returning, as well as new colleagues to meet.
It’s quite interesting when you do a revival of a show and you have a mixture in the cast of people who have done the production before, and people who are completely new to it. In Figaro , we even have a Cherubino who was Susanna last year. It can sometimes get quite confusing. At the moment I am having trouble with Figaro as I’ve been rehearsing Falstaff for the past month, and at an early rehearsal I managed to call the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Falstaff Company to the Figaro room… Luckily people seem to know what I mean!
Some of you may remember my lists of quantities in a previous blog. Sometimes when you are writing blocking for a new show (the movement of people on the stage), things change so much that it is easier to write on a sticky label rather than constantly erase from the nice clean white pages. The picture below is how many sticky notes the previous DSM on Falstaff managed to get through. They are, of course, recycled where possible!