I have played opera for years now. I have witnessed all sorts of pit mishaps: a fish flying into the pit, a billiard ball has been hit into the pit, feathers and dust fall in frequently, and once a singer slid into the pit, hitting a trombone which was then unplayable. So I watch this and wonder what the stage director (if there was one, was thinking with the shoe tossing. (And what the percussionist thought when one hit his instruments.)

But gee, maybe it would be fun to be in an opera and strip down to my underwear and wear a pot on my head.

Or not.

(Opera San José is extremely careful with staging these days. They really do try to avoid any “pitfalls”.)


  1. Let’s see, pit droppings…had a whip (King and I), an Apple, a dancer, lots of dust and bugs, a football, a yo-yo…can’t remember all of them.

  2. I could never remember ’em all either. Just the scarier ones.

  3. Yah, like the dancer – why did I capitalize “apple” (it wasn’t a computer)?

  4. Well, I’ve only dropped a hat into the pit. Which, thankfully, got caught by the netting at the lip of the stage.

    Every so often a director will stage us to throw things, which always frightens me a little. In Carmen, one of the other chorus men threw Micaela’s bag to me. One day the pitch was a little wild, and I almost missed it. Based on its trajectory, it would have gone right into the pit, probably into the second violins.

    Of course, back in the old San Jose Symphony days we had a singer pass out at a performance of the Brahms Requiem, and fall right into the trumpet section (which thankfully was on stage, since it was a symphony concert).

  5. Wow … hitting a violin could be a major horror! Think of how much those cost! I didn’t realize OSJ was still having anyone toss things our direction!

    I wasn’t at the SJS concert, but I sure heard about it. A LOT of people were extremely angry with the conductor for not stopping to make sure the poor woman was still alive. The conductor was extremely proud of himself for NOT reacting. Go figure.

  6. Lots of people in the chorus felt the same way, although we were able to see the stage manager take her offstage, unlike most of the orchestra, so we knew she was at least alive. And of course, musically speaking there were a few moments of chaos (is he going to stop? Should we keep singing?) before we got back on track.

    As I recall, it was toward the end of the sixth movement (in a cruel irony, just as we had held the German word for “death” for six beats), so the concert was almost over. But I’m sure we could have stopped and found a place to start again, even if it meant repeating the movement. I’m sure the audience would have appreciated that, since they clearly knew that someone had passed out.

    Oh well, it was many years ago and the singer was and is totally fine (although still embarrassed about the whole thing).

  7. I’m sure I’d be embarrassed too, but I think I’d also be angry. I mean … c’mon! It could have been something horribly serious. The audience was distracted (we did hear about that) and I’m sure they would have appreciated knowing she was okay.

    The whole “The show must go on” thing is highly over rated! :-/