In addition to the fight benches, other action props used in Simon Boccanegra include paper maps, charts and letters, hand-held torches and decorative and stage combat swords.
Maps, Charts and Letters
When additional maps and charts were needed to support the onstage action, our props and scenic departments hand-crafted the items using a thirty-six inch laser-jet printer and hand-painted effects. The over-sized maps were photographed and printed at a high resolution on watercolor paper. After printing, the maps were sent to the scenic department for ‘aging’ with light washes of thinned acrylic paint.
A scenic artist uses a sponge to apply color to the back of a map
In each performance two laser-printed letters are used. New paper letters are added for the next performance. The maps and charts are replaced when they become soiled or damaged by the action.
Numerous paper props are used in the Map Room scene
Details of maps, charts and letters on the table in the Map Room
The self-extinguishing torches we have used at LA Opera throughout our history were developed for the original production of Otello in nineteen eighty-six.
The torches use a non-toxic solid fuel. They burn for fifteen minutes with as much as a sixteen inch tall flame and weigh about two and a half pounds.
A Populace Fighter tightly grips the “dead-man” switch which if released extinguishes the flame
At the start of each performance nearly thirty torches are preloaded by the prop crew to accommodate the duration of the performance without having to reload.
The final scene of Simon Boccanegra uses eight torches (detail)
Decorative and Stage Combat Swords
Medieval swords are used in the Council Chamber scene. The edges of the swords have been dulled for safety, and include six decorative and fifteen stage combat weapons.
Swords backstage in a special sword carrier/cart built by our prop crew
The decorative swords are relatively inexpensive detailed reproductions. The stage combat swords are made of knifemaker’s steel by a bladesmith and are designed with structural integrity to sustain the impact of combat.
Swords in action during the Council Chamber scene