Author Topic: Blocking Notation for Opera  (Read 4242 times)

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Blocking Notation for Opera
« on: Nov 02, 2016, 03:40 pm »

I am student, who is doing opera for the first time in about two months. Typically in opera do you take specific blocking notation or do you just record ent/ex? I have heard differing opinions. Please let me know!

« Last Edit: Nov 03, 2016, 04:42 am by PSMKay »


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Re: Blocking Notation for Opera
« Reply #1 on: Nov 03, 2016, 12:15 pm »

As with everything, it depends!

- If you're working as an SM on the book, or DSM, then yes - specific blocking notation
- If you're working as an ASM, or Deck SM, then no - just Ent and Ex is usually fine. However, if you have any Supernumeraries, I'd suggest having their blocking written down, as they can be replaced/covered at short notice.
- Some SMs ask their ASMs to have blocking down as well, to help with other blocking questions, or to help them ensure busy scenes have been covered by Stage Management in general.

Hope that helps!



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Re: Blocking Notation for Opera
« Reply #2 on: Nov 03, 2016, 04:16 pm »
In my experience, (and bear in mind that it depends on the company and how they do their staffing), the Assistant Director was the primary person responsible for taking blocking notation for show archival purposes. As an SM, I noted entrances and exits, but I took as much blocking notation for myself as possible. As an ASM, I noted everything, esp. entrances and exits. As previously mentioned, it's helpful to have in the case of supers, but ASMs in opera are often responsible for being light walkers onstage, while the lighting designer is cueing. Having the blocking recorded will make you better prepared to walk any role you are asked to walk.

Having the entrances and exits noted is helpful for creating paperwork, like the WWW and quick-change sheets, and noting entrance cues in your score. Having all of the other blocking will help you run props in rehearsal, run any other rehearsals (like a put-in rehearsal), lightwalk, preset props, etc.

If you're an ASM, I recommend talking to your SM about it- they may have thoughts or preferences about it. Best of luck with your first opera!


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Re: Blocking Notation for Opera
« Reply #3 on: Nov 03, 2016, 11:34 pm »
Agree with what's been written, and would add that often opera stage management is about putting all the puzzle pieces together for everyone, as you may not get the entire full cast together until the final room run the day before you move into the theatre. So if a supernumerary carries on the tray of glasses, a chorus member gets two glasses from it, and hands one off to the principal who gives the toast, then the ASM may likely be filling for any and all of those three performers before the rehearsal period is over. Being able to fill in for those situations and to know the blocking of the props and all character entrance/exits are the biggest priorities in my opinion.



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Re: Blocking Notation for Opera
« Reply #4 on: Nov 06, 2016, 11:03 am »
Ditto to what smejs just said.

On the opera that I'm working on now I just had a situation like that occur. Also there were some entrance cues I didn't actually give until the final room run because we didn't run two scenes back to back until then. During rehearsals I am constantly being chorus members, supers, or some times even principals (without the singing) because we only seem them for about 3 or 4 times a week. I'm always a fan of noting those moments in my score too.


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Re: Blocking Notation for Opera
« Reply #5 on: Jan 13, 2018, 10:33 am »
I usually do pretty comprehensive blocking notation (just use bar numbers in place of line numbers, with a second column for repeats) since - as mentioned - you're going to have people whose characters are receiving blocking when the performer is not in the room, so you're going to have to do some heavier-than-usual sessions catching people up. If I can afford to stick an ASM on table I'll usually have them cover prop-tracks, which is more relevant to what they'll need to know, but which can be matched up with blocking notes for confirmation - e.g. if the prop notes say that the vase exits USL, and my blocking says the maid carrying it is exiting DSR, then we know we have a problem ;)


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