Who we are...
September 27, 2016
Philippe Pointard, prop man
First of all, what is a prop? Every object that the singers handle on stage: a mask, a sword, furniture… I work very closely with the set designer, costumer, and stage director to make sure that everything looks believable. And my research begins a few months before an opera opens, so that all the props are ready once rehearsals start. The singers must have time to get used to the props, in order to learn how to handle them easily… I scout out antique stores and second-hand shops, or I make the props myself out of various materials. The props must be light enough and solid enough to be handled with ease.
You never build the same thing twice, so you need to be creative! Each show requires its own specific props… So there’s really no standard procedure in our field, as everything is made-to-measure. In Aida, there are an enormous number of props, since there are a lot of people on stage and they’ve got to keep their hands busy. We don’t go for great detail since, on stage, nothing is too apparent…
During a performance of Carmen, just before going on stage to kill Carmen at the end of the opera, Don José lost his knife… so he strangled her instead! So for the next performances, he always made sure to carry two knives!