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Subject: Re: Met Fires John Copley
From: Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 4 Feb 2018 23:38:32 -0500

text/plain (72 lines)

Gee, I must have been supering in the wrong places.  I really don’t have any juicy 
backstage stories to tell about my experiences (just under 40 operas during a 15-year 
period), other than those involving the invariable on-stage accidents.

I do remember one occasion — I can’t even call it an “incident” — that had the entire 
company tittering during a rehearsal of “Lucia di Lammermoor” at The Washington Opera.  
At the top of Act I Scene 4 (“Sala preparata per il ricevimento di Arturo”), as the chorus 
intoned “Per te d’immenso giubilo,” the wedding party entered from the rear and walked 
down a flight of stairs, preceded by two soldiers (me and another super guy).  Both the 
other super and I were holding very tall and heavy poles, to which were hooked two huge 
bolts of tartan, artistically gathered at the middle, the concept being that, as Arturo entered 
to sing “Per poco fra le tenebre,” we would dip our poles and Arturo would attractively be 
framed by the two bolts of tartan as he sang his aria.

It’s one of these thing that look and sound simple, but really aren’t, because the timing has 
to be perfect, there are lots of people around, and those two poles with the tartans hanging 
from them were very heavy and unwieldy indeed.  Plus we were rehearsing on a flat surface 
and of course the timing was all wrong by the time we started on-stage rehearsals and had 
to perform this routine, so everything had to be re-timed so that the poles could come down 
just as Arturo reached the bottom of the stairs.

Anyhow, the director wasn’t satisfied with how the whole thing looked, so he told the other 
super and me, in front of the entire company, and with a sly grin, “No, no, no, you’ve got to 
dip your poles down more, I want both of your poles to touch, got it ?”  It was only when 
the entire company burst out laughing that I realized it was a “double entendre” (a phony 
and grammatically impossible pseudo-French expression, by the way, which in French 
means nothing, the correct French way of expressing this concept is “double sens” or “sous-

This being 20 years ago, everybody laughed merrily and two minutes later everyone had 
forgotten all about it.  I’m sure that if that had happened today, indignant supers or 
choristers would have complained that their religious or other sensitivities had been 
offended, the director fired, an exposé published in “The Washington Post,” etc. etc.

To paraphrase Miss Charlotte Bartlett in “Room with a View,” “this country has lost *all* its 

Cheers and all the best,


Alain Letort
Washington, D.C.
Des Ungeheuers Höhle  

On Sun, 4 Feb 2018 12:36:47 -0700, Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Or backstage among the Met supers.  I could tell you stories I got from
>friends years ago who supered.
>On Sun, Feb 4, 2018 at 6:13 AM, Don <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Gotta wonder what sort of emotionally-straitjacketed/sexually-inhibited
>> person would even want to be in a large opera chorus?  God  help him or her
>> if they landed in a broadway chorus.
>> DonD

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