Katie Heath-Jones: Stage Manager, Die Fledermaus, Welsh National Opera

May 16, 2017 by

As I write this we’re in our last week in the studio for Die Fledermaus before we move on stage next week for technical rehearsals.  As we get closer to going on stage me, Suzie (Deputy Stage Manager) and Dan (Assistant Stage Manager on Props) are making sure all of our paperwork is up to date.

This production was first produced in 2011, and although it’s a revival several of the principal singers have changed and we have some new chorus members to slot in. Far from being a carbon copy of the original production, it’s a chance to revisit it with fresh eyes. One advantage of having worked on it previously means we have more opportunity to get ahead of the game so we can save time on stage. Today for example we had our Fight Director Kevin McCurdy come in and teach our singer Paul Charles Clarke who plays Alfred how to safely jump off the back of the set. This means Paul feels confident with the action he has to perform before we add in all the extras on stage like costume and lighting.

A highlight of doing this production again is the return of John Copley the original director and Stuart Hopps the choreographer. John started his career over 60 years ago as a stage manager before becoming a world-renowned director. It’s interesting to hear his stories of all the great opera Divas he has worked with and his time in stage management. Stuart has choreographed various productions with us, including Eugene Onegin which is coming back in the autumn. He has a great rapport with our chorus when getting them dancing and they get to show off that they’re not just there to stand and sing. I’m pretty sure they would score highly if they were to Polka or Waltz on Strictly!





Once we get on stage I’m going to be liaising with Sarah Crisp our revival director and Tomáš Hanus the conductor. If we have to stop for any reason, it’s my job to try to get things restarted as efficiently as possible whilst making sure we have time to rehearse all the technical elements safely. As well as our stage management team there are usually around 40+ people working backstage on the show. This includes stage crew, wardrobe, wigs /make-up and electricians. All of us work together to produce the show technically and make sure that it runs smoothly come opening night. We then have the task of making it work in every theatre we tour to, none of which are as big as our home theatre the Wales Millennium Centre. It really is a team effort on and off stage. As next week is going to be full of early starts and late finishes I’m going to bank as much sleep as I can between now and Monday with perhaps the odd box set and dog walk thrown in!


Die Fledermaus is part of Welsh National Opera’s Vienna Vice Summer season along with Der Rosenkavalier. Die Fledermaus opens at Wales Millennium Centre Saturday 20 May 7.15pm, for all performance dates visit www.wno.org.uk

We have one pair of tickets for Die Fledermaus at Wales Millennium Centre as a crowd funder for the Wales Critics Fun which provides support to reviewers across Wales. They are £80 and includes a programme for the evening. Subject to availability. Just email walestheatreawards@gmail.com   Only one pair available. 

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