Go behind the scenes at the L.A. Opera

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Placido Domingo leads the Los Angeles Opera orchestra in this rehearsal of “Carmen” while performers are on stage. Domingo, one of the world’s great tenors, is the L.A. Opera’s general director.

This week, the Los Angeles Opera opens its 27th season with an epic, big budget production of “Carmen,” that bold and bawdy 19th Century tale of love and temptation by Georges Bizet.

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Behind the scenes at L.A.’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, hundreds of cast and crew members have been working to put the finishing touches on the production before this Saturday’s opening night. All of the backstage activity has its own choreography, as set designers, costumers, carpenters and make up artists work to get the show ready.

Off stage the financial health of the  L.A. Opera took a pummeling during the recession. Declining ticket sales meant the number of shows had to be reduced, budget cuts and staff let go. Matters got so bad it had to seek a multi-million dollar emergency loan from Los Angeles County.

But the company says it’s come back from the brink and has learned to be more frugal in its theatrical ways.

"Carmen is one of the L.A. Opera's biggest and most expensive productions this season, costing $3.6 million to stage. There are 115 onstage performers and 64 musicians in the orchestra. The set was shipped to Los Angeles from the Teatro Real in Spain.
“Carmen is one of the L.A. Opera’s biggest and most expensive productions this season, costing $3.6 million to stage. There are 115 onstage performers and 64 musicians in the orchestra. The set was shipped to Los Angeles from the Teatro Real in Spain.
Placido Domingo leads the Los Angeles Opera orchestra in this rehearsal of “Carmen” while performers are on stage. Domingo, one of the world’s great tenors, is the L.A. Opera’s general director.
Every great opera production needs a great stage crew. As performers rehearse onstage, behind the curtain, platoons of people work to ready sets and costumes.
Every great opera production needs a great stage crew. As performers rehearse onstage, behind the curtain, platoons of people work to ready sets and costumes.
Just some of the props used in the production of "Carmen."
Some of the props used in the production of “Carmen.”