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Doing a Super Job

By Marion Frizzell, Communications Coordinator

Have you ever noticed characters on stage but not singing during an opera and wondered who they are? They are likely supernumeraries, or supers for short. Supers are the "extras" of opera. HGO's supers come from all walks of life and have a variety of day jobs—from dancers and cellists, to teachers, students, and archivists. In our fall repertory operas, La traviata and Julius Caesar, supers play a vital role in bringing the stories to life onstage.

Bull Puppet from La traviataIn La traviata, supers portray bulls during a mock bullfight at the maskedball in the second act, when Violetta has returned to Paris. For supernumerary Christian Scott, the most challenging aspect of performing as a bull is the costume itself. The costume weighs approximately 40 pounds and extends 2 feet beyond her head. She uses her background as a dancer, from which she learned to isolate body movement, to combat the weight of the costume while moving onstage. Christian and her fellow supernumaries add to the stunning visuals that make this production of La traviata so unique.

In Julius Caesar, supers portray a variety of characters, including Egyptian and Roman soldiers, maids, and showgirls. They move set pieces onstage, create geometric shapes for the performances to take place against, and even assist with an onstage costume change!  The variety of work that a super performs is part of the adventure for Kacee Dugas, who says, "I love that in opera, supers can range from background objects to crucial symbolic figures. No matter the task, I can say my experience as a super means I am contributing to a beautifully complex art form and I am honored to be surrounded by incredible artists."

If an opera production is a big machine with many moving pieces, then supers are some of the tiny cogs that help keep the machine running. We hope you enjoy our incredible fall repertory, including the work of our super supernumeraries.

Supers with fight director Adam Noble
Supers with Fight Director Adam Noble