A large team!
There are, all over the world, many opera houses, each of which has an artistic director who chooses the productions to be presented from among the vast existing repertoire. Sometimes an opera is created on request. The artistic director has to select the singers who will perform roles as well as the director who will stage the opera. Unless he conducts the work himself, he sometimes also has to select a conductor.
The production director and the technical director supply every technical, as well as human, resource required by the stage director to transpose the work onto the stage. A team works on designing and building the sets, which are sometimes very big, while another team designs and makes the costumes. The production’s atmosphere is created with lighting and special effects. Putting together an opera requires a lot of attention to detail, not to mention time and money. While the set and costume teams are adding the finishing touches, the movements of each of the characters and the musical structure are carefully noted down during many hours of rehearsal with piano accompaniment, which are held in special rehearsal halls. The orchestra rehearses the thousands of notes in the musical score in a separate hall. Only in the very last rehearsals is it all brought together on stage. And that's where the magic begins...
According to the work and to the composer’s requirements, the orchestra is made up of as little as 45 to as many as 120 musicians, who play string, wind and percussion instruments. During a performance, the orchestra is located in front of the stage in an area called the “pit,” which is built a few metres lower than the stage so that the voices of the singers (who don't use microphones) can be projected over the orchestra. Not only does the orchestra serve to accompany the singers, it also helps create the atmosphere of the production.
The conductor is the link between the singers and the orchestra. During the performance, he or she is the only person who can be seen by both groups. Standing on a small raised platform called the “podium,” the conductor can also be seen by the audience. During rehearsals and performances, the conductor is in charge of all of the musical elements in the opera—the orchestra, the singers and the chorus—and works closely with the director.
This is the person who prepares and directs the chorus, working closely with the conductor to ensure that the choristers interpret the music correctly.