Part of a continuing look this week at the frenzy backstage in the days before San Diego Opera’s production of “Faust.” Follow updates on our arts blog, Behind the Scene.
Think back to the most infernally complicated piece of IKEA furniture you’ve ever assembled. Multiply the difficulty by 1,000, and you might begin to comprehend the headaches and satisfactions of putting together an opera set.
Nine hours after the applause concluded for the last “Der Rosenkavalier” performance, construction crews were on the stage at Civic Theatre to tear down that set and start building “Faust.” That was last Wednesday at 8 a.m., when a few dozen stagehands in loose camouflage pants or jeans, tool belts and t-shirts reported for duty.
By Friday, the progress was astounding. All traces of 18th-century frippery were gone and in their place, tall, dark walls hinted at the psychological turmoil to come in the soul-searching tale of Faust, the man who makes a deal with the devil.
As a newcomer to this backstage world, I was amazed at how efficiently the crews built the new set. I sat down for a chat Friday afternoon with John David Peters, who has built sets for the San Diego Opera since 1969. We literally crouched on some low wooden steps in the middle of the stage — his office, you might say.