It was 50 years ago this month that the Lyric Opera of Kansas City presented its first production, one of the most popular operas: Puccini's La boh?me. To mark the occasion, the company returns to the bittersweet love story set in 1830s Paris as this season's opener.
Kansas City, MO – KCUR's Laura Spencer talked to a few of the cast members who you see on stage but don't hear from. They're extras called supernumeraries. A supernumerary, or super, appears on stage - often as a soldier, a townsperson, or a servant - but doesn't speak and doesn't sing. In a typical season, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City hires between 30 and 45 supers who are compensated with parking vouchers and free tickets. Some have volunteered for more than 15 years and others are new each production, like Major John Drew who's cast as a French soldier in La boh?me. Major Drew has been on active duty in the Army for 14 years and the day before rehearsals began, he returned from a year-long stint in Iraq. Some supers say they relish the opportunity to share the stage with world famous singers or to experience professional theatre. For Drew, it's also an opportunity to spend time with his kids.
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