Touring the backstage of the Opera House at the Kennedy Center for me was rather like being a very small mouse in a very large cheese shop. I’ve been backstage at many theaters, but never one as massive as this one. Photographer Brian Mosley and I joined a private press tour minutes before a Washington National Opera performance of Madama Butterfly earlier this month, and there was an eerie quiet backstage. We were in the proverbial calm before the storm. Technical professionals in black were moving about, readying the stage, and it reinforced just how much goes into a production of that caliber and size.
First off, the stats. When I say the Opera House is massive, I’m not exaggerating. The house seats 2,219 patrons. The stage is 100′ wide by 70′ deep by 100′ tall, with wing space of 50′ on each side – you are also dwarfed by the backstage stage space as two huge fire doors the width and height of the stage, located stage left and upstage, allow for enormous pieces of scenery to be moved on and offstage.
I am going to run out of adjectives to describe size, so just trust me when I say, um, it’s big.