More than 40 men came to try out for San Diego Opera last night. It didn’t matter if they could sing.
Some found out about the auditions from martial arts class newsletters or rock-climbing clubs. Most are used to climbing things, like the high-voltage electrician who scales poles. Others are used to the life aquatic, like the fisherman who spent 40 years hauling fish in Alaska. Stage acrobatics are second nature for many, like brothers from the performing Platt family who were semifinalists on the “America’s Got Talent” television show.
All were hoping to land spots as climbers, fighters, acrobats on the whaling ship Pequod for San Diego Opera’s upcoming production of “Moby-Dick,” a new opera.
The opera uses creative lighting and video projections to convert the stage from an upright ship to a birds-eye view of smaller boats. The cast will dangle from heights up to 40 feet, cling to rungs on a curved wall much like a skateboarding half-pipe, and crash and slide in heaps down the wall when storms come.
Not exactly feats fit for someone needing to sing a song at the same time. Some acrobats and stuntsmen selected will be paid; other guys will be “supernumeraries,” a fancy opera word for volunteer extras who don’t sing but have specific roles to play.
Last night, one by one, the men illuminated their climbing and acrobatic experiences and demonstrated their tumbling prowess for assistant director Keturah Stickann and her team of fight and climbing coordinators. The group of 15 men will climb, carry and deal with tasks like boiling the blubber of the whale.