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Behind the Scenes at S.F. Opera's Ring

May 31, 2011

Back Stage at the SF Opera's RingAlmost the first thing that anyone learns about Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung is that it's huge. Its four long operas place incredible demands on the technical side (fire, dragons, flying horses, and lots more) and requires a huge orchestra — the San Francisco Opera production has 89 players, literally all they could squeeze into the pit, including some musicians playing offstage. The singers are onstage singing for hours at a stretch. Young Siegfried, in the opera that bears his name, has a particularly impossible burden, and it takes somewhat of a daredevil mentality even to attempt the role on a major stage.

But do you know about all the little details that add up to creating a Ring? All the small costume details, coordinating and running dozens of props across the entire epic, putting the supertitles together in the best way, insuring continuity in the production, coordinating the hundreds of music-and-stage-action cues, making rehearsal schedules work, plus inventing special effects, and more? In this video, SFCV takes you backstage to find out about all the myriad details that The Ring requires in order for the saga even to make it to the stage. This really is not your ordinary opera production.

Produced by Tritone Media

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This project is supported in part by Gordon P. and Ann Getty, Robin and Kay Frost, and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.National Endowment for the Arts

Tal Skloot is the owner of Tritonemedia, a production company that specializes in the performing arts and story based media. He has worked on numerous feature films and Emmy award winning documentaries. His documentary 'Freeway Philharmonic' recently toured the globe as part of the U.S. State Department sponsored American Documentary Showcase.


What a great backstage video about the Ring. I love backstage views. Now I wish we had tickets!

I'm a music-lover who attends all-too-few live events.

That said, I find your efforts - as reflected in this video - both noteworthy and compelling. It was quite moving to see the motivated efforts of so many believers, all striving to make the production a success.

I have no idea whether you'll turn a profit. Nor can I predict what critics will say.

But I sincerely applaud your efforts to raise the bar in local performance art, and I wish you the best of luck.

With regards,


What a great view into the magic of opera! We tend to forget that even mounting supertitles takes a lot of work. Well done, SFCV!

Wonderful video! Loved the way it moved from backstage to the stage! Incredible jaw dropping production - bravo to all!

Really compelling film. Nice work.

Look for the old videotape (VHS) Sing Faster, a one-hour program backstage at the old Ring in SF--inside Fafner, realizing that the Rhine mist is CO2 and could kill the Rhine maidens if they didn't take an occasional whiff of oxygen, watching the set changes, the waiting during the actual performance, and a timelapse view of people running for the standing room places--altogether fascinating.