Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Super Job!

A supernumerary is an additional member of an organization. There are supernumerary actors, knights, ladies, professors, police, ministers, judges, military personnel, and writers. In this blog I refer only to the “actor” part of that definition. Many times they are called supers for short. At Houston Grand Opera, supers are folks on the stage who do EVERYTHING but sing.

The top ten 10 ½ worst things that can happen to a supernumerary during an opera:

10.5 Having to wear tights/dance belt

10 Having to wear tights/dance belt that are TOO tight

9. Getting spit on by opera singers (They spit a lot when they sing. I mean GALLONS.)

8. An opera singer does something completing unrehearsed on stage (It’s okay, they‘re only acting.)

7. Singing along with forty other men in the chorus and having the conductor stop rehearsal because you sound so bad that he can hear you (never ever sing if you’re a super)

6. Making a blind entrance through a door and standing directly in front of the soprano while she is singing her aria. (This one could end your career as a super)

5. Choking on a piece of candy on stage during a 12 minute aria (Never eat on stage…EVER.)

4. Forgetting, dropping or breaking your prop (You’re a guard for goodness sake! Where is your sword?!)

3. Having your prop gun NOT shoot on cue (Don’t just yell “BANG.” They will only laugh.)

2. Having a twenty-second quick change (Quick changes almost always involve some degree of public nudity.)

1. Having to lift/carry/catch/throw an opera singer (They are not always the lightest people in the world—those high notes take a lot of muscle!—and supers ALWAYS have to lift/carry/catch/throw them.)


Susan said...

Excellent post! I'm a super with NJ Opera.

I have had to lift and carry an opera singer, clean up after someone accidentally dropped glasses full of "champagne," including a sugar-glass prop that shattered into a million pieces, and yes, after doing that, in my haste to exit the stage I went in between a couple in the chorus who were arm in arm. Oops!
My costumes are always too LONG! So your list needs a 10 3/4: Trying to go up and down stairs in a too-long costume without tripping.
And yes!! When they do something different and suddenly you almost crash into someone who was never in that particular spot during any of the rehearals... and this time you're carrying a tray of real drinks! Been there, done that!!

I sing along only backstage, so the conductor doesn't know who it is. Shhh don't tell!

Yeah supers!

To all the opera singers who read this blog: Supers love chocolate!

Thanks for the great blog entry!!!

Judith said...

You forgot having a tenor with bad breath, wearing a pineapple costume or squirrel costume or maybe a dinosaur or lion costume that is 300 degrees inside or even your one big moment onstage and you are playing someone dead! But is is all worth it for all the wonderful and exciting people you meet and you never have to learn lines or music!

Larissa said...

Add to that list forgetting to take your cell phone out of your pocket before you go on stage. Supers often do alot of hurry up and wait activities, and with the advent of smart phones, they aren't always so smart to leave the game playing on their phone in the dressing room. They are not the only ones guilty of this - as a dresser, I know!