Backstage tour of the opera house in Gelsenkirchen

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.

On the Simon Boccanegra stage set

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. 

The stage manager’s control board

This control board is used during the performance by the stage manager (Inspizient) to call the singers and give instructions to the stagehands.

The make-up department

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.

Ballet rehearsal hall

In addition to its opera ensemble, chorus and orchestra, the Musiktheater im Revier (MiR) has its own ballet company, which rehearses here.

In the costume department

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.

In the costume department

In the workshops

At the end of our opera house tour we were taken through the workshops where the stage sets are made.

A stage set under construction

My photos in this post are from 2007. I revised the text in 2018.

See more posts on backstage tours of European opera houses.

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