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Who Does What?

  • Artistic director: Makes all artistic decisions, such as hiring singers, the conductor, the director, and so on.
  • Conductor: Coordinates all the performers—the pit orchestra, the singers on stage, and the chorus. The conductor brings his or her own musical style to the production and works closely with the director. Using their hands or a baton, conductors silently give instructions to the musicians and singers. The courtesy title of Maestro is sometimes given to a conductor or composer.
  • Stage director: Directs all the gestures and movements of the soloists and the chorus. The stage director defines the production’s visual rhythm and general approach, which becomes clear after the artistic design stage. It is the stage director who brings the characters to life and moulds them to the behaviours he or she wants them to express.
  • Production director: Coordinates the artistic and administrative aspects of the performance. He or she assists the singers and technical staff during rehearsals and performances.
  • Technical director: Coordinates the technicians and other staff working on scenery, costumes, lighting, and sound.
  • Stage manager: Coordinates the entire performance. (see Control room in The Parts of an Opera).
  • Set designer: Plans and oversees construction of the scenery for each act.
  • Costume Designer: Creates and supervises costume design.
  • Lighting designer: Plans and creates the colours, intensity, and timing of the stage lighting.
  • Surtitle designer: Translates the booklet used to project the surtitles so that the audience can understand an opera sung in a foreign language.
  • Workshop manager: Assists with costume design, cares for costumes (cleaning, repair, missing buttons, etc.), and makes sure all singers’ costumes are on hand and ready to go.
  • Dressers: Help the performers put on their costumes correctly.
  • Makeup artists and wigmakers: Create the performers’ makeup and hair.
  • Prop managers: Plan, find, and take care of all small items that are part of the performance (teapots, handbags, books, drinking glasses, utensils, and so on)
  • Choreographer: Creates and then teaches the dance movements and on-stage positions to the performers.
  • Stage technicians: Move the scenery at each new scene.
  • Electrician: Ensures all electrical connections and bulbs are working properly.
  • Pyrotechnician: Manages the special effects.
  • Projectionist: Manages on-stage projections (when applicable) and the projection of the surtitles (translations of the words being sung) on a screen above the stage.