When I was in Gelsenkirchen in 2007 I happened to be there on a day when they were offering a guided tour of the opera house, including the backstage areas that most of us don’t get to see very often.
Here some people from our tour group are standing on the stage set for Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra. It consisted of about two dozen platforms which could be raised or lowered individually at different times during the performance.
This control board is used during the performance by the stage manager (Inspizient) to call the singers and give instructions to the stagehands.
Our tour also included a look at the make-up department, which is a very busy place in any opera house before a performance, especially if the entire chorus has to be made up in addition to the main singers.
Work in this department gets really challenging when it happens that, for instance, a 28-year-old mezzo-soprano has to be made up to look like the mother of a 45-year-old tenor.
In addition to its opera ensemble, chorus and orchestra, the Musiktheater im Revier (MiR) has its own ballet company, which rehearses here.
One of the highlights of any opera house tour is a visit to the costume department.
Hundreds of costumes are kept here, sometimes for decades (the oldest one I noticed was from the year 1968), and the people in charge can always find individual costumes when they are needed.
At the end of our opera house tour we were taken through the workshops where the stage sets are made.
My photos in this post are from 2007. I revised the text in 2018.
See more posts on backstage tours of European opera houses.