With sets stuck at sea, L.A. Opera scrambles to prepare for reopening

Rachel Brown Image
Thursday, September 2, 2021
With sets stuck at sea, L.A. Opera scrambles for reopening
Shipping delays have left sets for the Los Angeles Opera stuck at sea - but the reopening show will go on.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With just over two weeks until opening night of the L.A. Opera's production of Il Trovatore, a major drama is playing out behind the scenes.

The performers are ready, the props and costumes are here. But much of the production is missing.

"We find ourselves now in a predicament with the shipping stuck at sea," said Jeff Kleeman, technical director of the L.A. Opera. "And we've begun, a week ago, to build a re-creation of the rental production that is stuck at sea."

The opera's set materials remain in limbo as more than three dozen container ships remain stuck off the coast of Southern California. Pandemic-related issues are slowing down the ability for ships to dock and unload their cargos in Long Beach and Los Angeles, even as the volume of imports surges ahead of the holidays.

So that means just one month before the LA Opera's first staged production in a year and a half the crews are now scrambling to recreate the missing set.

"The type of disbelief you get in a dream or a nightmare where you really don't know if it's possible that that's real," Kleeman said.

A crew of about 45 people has 10 days to recreate the drawings and build the stage, a project that would normally take months.

The opera's design manager says she's never worked under this amount of pressure.

"I'm getting emotional right now because it will be quite a day when that curtain goes up and everything is there on stage finished," Carolina Angulo said.

As they say, "the show must go on." Il Travatore will run Sept. 18 through October 10.

The stars behind the scenes say the challenges they've faced will only make the production all the more rewarding.

"No matter what I feel on opening night from all of this, it still doesn't compare to the gods on stage," Kleeman said.