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Blog entries posted during March 2012

Albert Herring Smoke Effect

 At Los Angeles Opera when we need to provide smoke or fog effects we have a couple of options for available and safe technology. Most applications call for our liquid nitrogen (LN2) systems of which we have four machines. The machines are located in the basement or “trap room” beneath the stage. For this production of Albert Herring the staging requires a gas furnace “explosion”. In synchronization with an explosion sound effect we cue a two to three second blast of LN2 “smoke”.

A stagehand tests the LN2 system prior to the performance

Each LN2 machine is a large reservoir filled with purified water which is heated to near boiling. Operating the controls allows for precise integration of the LN2 gas into the reservoir. When this mixture takes place, the white cloud-like “smoke” is created. A series of valves and hoses are used to regulate and distribute the effect.
The resultant effect product is a non-toxic mixture not dissimilar to the clouds in the sky. This provides for a spectacular effect that does not bother the singers.
Albert Herring Los Angeles Opera Smoke Effect

Albert opens the trap, throws a lit match in, and the “explosion” occurs

In addition to Albert Herring, the effect will be used extensively in our upcoming production of La Boheme.
  • Margie Schnibbe says:

    Thank you for your comment. Please send your inquiry to Technical Director : Jeff Kleeman

  • Albert Herring Food Props

    Albert Herring has a number of expendable food items that are consumed by the performers and need to be replaced for every show. Variables that determine what real food items are used include the action, staging, set design, and a performer’s dietary restriction or personal preference.
    During the rehearsal process food items and quantities needed for each performance are determined. An expendable food list containing the items needed for each scene, how the food is used and all other relevant information is compiled by a Stage Manager and managed by the Props Coordinator.

    Albert Herring Los Angeles Opera Props Dept

    Prop lemonade bottles are filled with sugar-free lemonade

    Before each performance fresh food items are purchased by a production assistant and the food is prepared for the performance by a union Prop Master in a small kitchen backstage.
    Los Angeles Opera Technical Department Albert Herring

    Produce and hot foods in the backstage kitchen

    In the Grocer’s Shop scene the action requires real peaches, apples, cucumbers and turnips. These real fruits and vegetables are mixed in with the artificial produce onstage.
    Albert Herring Los Angeles Opera Tech Dept

    The Grocer's scene

    In the May Day Festival scene the singers drink lemonade and eat an assortment of finger foods including sausage rolls, ham sandwiches and cupcakes.
    Albert Herring Los Angeles Opera May Day scene

    The May Day scene

    Extra whip cream icing is added to Albert’s cupcake to support the action of the May Day scene.
    Albert Herring Food Props Los Angeles Opera

    Cupcakes and marshmallow “taffy”

    In the final scene the saltwater taffy is replaced with marshmallows wrapped in parchment paper to alleviate the noise made by the original hard candy hitting the floor.
    LA Opera Albert Herring Props Department

    The Final scene