Props can vary in size, shape, color and just about any other fashion imaginable. Some even float (well, kind of). Boats can play a large role in opera, adding an aquatic element to the production, captivating the audience’s attention and taking them on the cruise of a lifetime.
Throughout the years, LA Opera has used many forms and types of boats as props to make each show come to life on the stage. Past productions using boats in the set include II Tabarro (2008), II Postino (2010), The Flying Dutchman (2013), Billy Budd (2014), Jonah and the Whale (2014), Florencia en el Amazonas (2015), Hercules vs Vampires (2015) and, of course, Moby Dick (2015). Some of these productions used actual boats salvaged from retired fishermen, others used rented prop boats, and some even used boat silhouettes projected onto the stage.
For LA Opera’s production of Moby Dick this season, the whaling ship, better known as The Pequod, will consume the stage. The deck of the ship will be the floor of the stage, while an intricate surplus of ropes and masts fill the air above. “There’s a whole spider web of rigging we’re setting up to hold everything in place for this show,” says Lisa Coto, LA Opera’s Props Coordinator. “The cyc plays a huge role in this show as well.”
A cyc, or cyclorama is a concave wall positioned at the back of a stage. It curves up from the stage floor and extends high, helping give the illusion of a never ending stage. Built into the cyc is something similar to a ladder. The cast uses this to climb up and down the cyc, giving multiple illusions throughout the production.
Coto is excited for the show and loves seeing the stage transform into The Pequod. Throughout the whole show, the cyc is being used in some way, whether to hold up ropes or masts, or to have water or other scenes projected onto it.
“The biggest challenge for this show is going to be the projections,” says Coto. Many productions, especially Moby-Dick, use projections to give the illusion of the ship, the ocean, and even to depict the belly of the whale. “I’m interested to see how the projections and cast work together to make the production come to life.”
The Pequod, as well as the rest of the set, in Moby Dick are sure to captivate audiences whether for the large scale of the ship or the unique projections. When used in a set, boats are always a pleasant addition and help the story come to life right before your eyes. With a little help from the cyc and the impressive rigging work hanging above the stage, The Pequod is sure to impress audience members and make them feel as if they’ve set sail on the dangerous waters with Captain Ahab and his crew.
Audrey Register is a journalism and public relations major at Belmont University, graduating in May of 2016. Originally from North Carolina, she is currently an intern at LA Opera and also an opera newbie.