It’s an open casting call, readers. Opera San Antonio is looking for a few good men and women to perform as extras – or supernumeraries, as they’re called in the industry – on stage for the Jan. 8 and Jan. 11 productions of “Salome,” a retelling of the biblical story of tangled lust and violence based on the play by Oscar Wilde.
The Opera will need three to four men and three to four women to act as party goers (almost everyone has experience in that field) as well as one large, muscular man to play the role of the Executioner. Fitness is essential for the latter, states the Opera’s application page.
Yes, there will be parties, exotic dancing, and executions for the story about Princess Salome, Richard Strauss’ first operatic masterpiece. Salome (played by Patricia Racette) essentially makes her stepfather, Herod (played by Allan Glassman), cut off the head of Jochanaan, a.k.a. John the Baptist (played by Alan Held), who is being held prisoner. Why does she do this? Because John wouldn’t kiss her and Herod promises Salome he’ll do anything for her in trade for a dance with/for him. He’s a bit of a creep. They’re all a bit ludicrous.
The nature of these super roles does not require extensive acting or singing experience, though it is preferred. Compensation will be based on experience, though the Executioner will be paid a modest fee. The real pay, for amateur supernumeraries, or supers, will be to share the main stage with world-class performers in the recently completed Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
Want to audition? Aspiring supers can send a full body shot and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Rehearsals start Dec. 18 and you’ll need to be available in the evenings and on weekends, with holidays off.
“The main requirement is patience,” said Stage Director and Choreographer Candace Evans. Rehearsals are long, performances are long – 90 minutes without intermission – and as a super, you’ll have no lines. The performance is in its native German, though projected subtitles will be provided for the audience.
“It’s an exciting (opportunity). A lot of the times, supers stand in the back and hold a spear, but these are actually party guests at this out-of-control party,” Evans said. “We’re looking for people who want to play.”
Almost the entire cast has role debuts. This will be soprano Racette’s first fully staged appearance as Salome.
Production-wise, “Salome” will be the Opera’s biggest performance of the season as it includes 17 singers, more than five supers, and the entire San Antonio Symphony under the direction of Sebastian Lang-Lessing, said Opera San Antonio Artistic Director Tobias Picker.
“The set will be bigger. Everything about it will be bigger,” Picker said, comparing the production to the Opera’s sold-out performances of Fantastic Mr. Fox that debuted the company’s season. Which means it’s more expensive to produce, but tickets are “still extremely inexpensive” compared to other opera houses around the U.S.
“It’s our first season so we’re starting off with modest prices …we wanna involve the community in any way that we can,” he said.
As long as the supers have patience for the makeup and costuming processes and can show up to rehearsals and shows on time, they should be having fun the whole time. “They’ll need to take directions from the director, but I don’t think it’s going to be too terribly intimidating… certainly an adrenaline rush for anyone who’s never been on stage before.”
*Featured/top image: Patricia Racette and the infamous silver platter of “Salome.” Courtesy photo.