Backstage at San Francisco Opera > September 2013 > Mephistopheles: By the Numbers
Mephistopheles: By the Numbers
Opera is frequently called the most grand of the performing arts, and our production of Mephistopheles is grand opera at its grandest! From the over 300 costumes, the thousands of jewels, and even the number of naked bodies you’ll see onstage, it is an amazing production that demonstrates just how big opera can be. And how many skilled craftsmen, artisans, employees, and artists it takes to make it this grand!

In today’s blog post we highlight just a small fraction of the numbers of interesting things you’ll see onstage when you see our dazzling production of Mephistopheles. For example:

3: how many stilt walkers are featured in the production

30: the number of children choristers from the San Francisco Boys and Girls Chorus appearing in the production

45: how many supernumeraries are utilized in the production

90: Choristers, with each having 3-4 costume changes

[A tailor at the San Francisco Opera Costume Shop works on a costume from the Easter Sunday scene.]

1,250: the number of yards of china silk used to make the Heavenly Hosts drapes

[Members of the San Francisco Opera Chorus and the San Francisco Boys and Girls Chorus act as the Heavenly Hosts in the Prologue. Photo by Cory Weaver.]

188: how many crowns you’ll see on stage

[Members of the San Francisco Opera Costume Shop adorn thousands of jewels to the production's crowns.]

7,040: the number of jewels affixed to the crowns in our production. 6,000 of them can be seen in the Heavenly Hosts Prologue alone!

160: masks to cover the artists and chorus

172: how many pairs of gloves are worn onstage

96: the number of party hats in the show

[Mephistopheles (Ildar Abdrazakov) enthralls his subjects in the Walpurgis scene. Photo by Cory Weaver.]

6: the variety of costumed devils you’ll see onstage

[Mephistopheles puts Faust (Ramon Vargas) under his devilish spell. Photo by Cory Weaver.]

65: how many orchestra members are in the orchestra pit

11: the number of orchestra members performing backstage/offstage

10: dancers employed in this production

[Proving that the devil doesn't always wear red. Photo by Cory Weaver.]

19: the number of years since Mephistopheles was last performed at San Francisco Opera

6: how many times Mephistopheles has been performed at San Francisco Opera

[Mephistopheles unsuccessfully attempts to lure Margherita (Patricia Racette) prior to her death. Photo by Cory Weaver.]

21: the number of lighting cues in this production

50-ish: approximately how many stagehands it takes to operate a single performance

4: the number of bare female breasts onstage during the performance

[San Francisco Opera Chorus members, dance corps members, and supernumeraries in the Easter Sunday scene. Photo by Cory Weaver.]

1: nearly nude male

26: how many prosthetic male appendages are used in the Walpurgis scene

3,146: the number of seats in the War Memorial Opera House. An additional 200 people can be accommodated in our standing section.

7: The number of performances left. What are you waiting for?!?


Posted: 10/9/2013 4:46:05 PM by San Francisco Opera
Filed under: 2013-14Season, bythenumbers, costumes, Mephistopheles


Backstage at San Francisco Opera is a fascinating, fast-moving, mysterious and sacred space for the Company’s singers, musicians, dancers, technicians and production crews. Musical and staging rehearsals are on-going, scenery is loaded in and taken out, lighting cues are set, costumes and wigs are moved around and everything is made ready to receive the audience. From the principal singers, chorus and orchestra musicians to the creative teams for each opera, in addition to the many talented folks who don’t take a bow on stage, this blog offers unique insight, both thought-provoking and light-hearted, into the life backstage at San Francisco Opera.


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