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Building the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's "Turandot"


This summer's heat didn't affect the staff building scenery for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, probably the first time in three decades. In June, the Lyric moved tools, lumber, and other items from an un-air conditioned space in the East Bottoms to a new production facility in the East Crossroads.


Kansas City, Mo. – KCUR's Laura Spencer visited on a hot day in July (the expected high was 101), and filed this report.

The Lyric Opera's director of design and technical production Keith Brumley says they probably wouldn't have been able to physically build the sets for their season opener, a big opera with a big cast, Puccini's "Turandot" in their old shop.

"Part of the problem is that, given this summer, by this point, one or two of my carpenters would probably be in the hospital with heat exhaustion," says Brumley.

The old shop is an un-air conditioned school gymnasium in the East Bottoms. Brumley says they could paint a backdrop - or work on scenery - but not both. And the painting often took place outside in the parking lot.

Brumley jokes that carpenters would try not to get sawdust on the backdrops when they were pulled inside at night, but he says they just got used to an extra texture.

On this day, at the Lyric's new Opera Center near 18th and Charlotte, it's cool inside. The carpentry shop with classic rock blaring in the background is buzzing with activity - literally - as two carpenters drill and saw flat planks of wood into curved roofs.

In a large separate room, a crew listening to a country crooner steps on the paint floor, drawing careful white borders, and filling in squares with black paint for panels inspired by the armor of the Chinese temple guards.

Lyric Opera of Kansas City
presents "Turandot"

Saturday, October 1
Wednesday, October 5
Friday, October 7
Sunday, October 9

Muriel Kauffman Theatre
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

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Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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