Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Paper Trail

Fun times have begun in the HGO prop department as we gear up for the new season. Andre Previn’s world premiere of Brief Encounter calls for a 1937 edition of The London Times. Paper props are one of my specialties, and the need for newspapers turns up frequently in opera productions. It's actually very easy to edit almost any newspaper just by changing the paper's banner, but it's ultimately more fun to search out the actual item. Newspapers have gone through so many changes, from printing, paper quality, size, images and eventually color. It's a great reference to have access to the actual item, but not when it’s being sold for 890 pounds.

So the quest beings… I used several search engines and had very little luck in finding my prize. You'd think major newspapers reprints would be easier to find. I did, however, get a reply from Pieter Collier with, and thus far he has proven to be very helpful. I'm looking to get a reproduction of what their website lists as The London Times October 8, 1937 which includes one of the earliest reviews of Tolkien's book the Hobbit written by Tolkien's friend C.S. Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia.

Working, hopefully, from scans of the actual paper, I can make any necessary changes and print as many copies as we need. I also try to make the props something the singers will enjoy. I've done several books, newspapers, menus and invitations that had to have parts of the libretto printed inside. Sometimes, I just like to have fun, like when I translated Britney Spears into Russian for a book in HGO production of Musgorsky’s opera Boris Godunov.

Stay tuned for more on how all this turned out…


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