Lighting designer extraordinaire and Florentine Opera Director of Design & Production Noele Stollmack shares notes from the new Wayne & Kristine Lueders Florentine Opera Center.
I planned to handle this blog post in a chronological fashion with respect to what activities have transpired recently, and what we plan to do in the coming weeks – kind of like a production schedule. Well, that just did not happen, so I decided to make a list of all of the elements that contribute to how exciting it is that the Florentine Opera Company finally has its own rehearsal space and costume/wig shops (practice rooms and production offices, too).
My top ten list, with #1 being the Best of the Best:
- Sprung wood dance floor: Transforms the 3000 square foot cream city brick building from a warehouse to a fantastic rehearsal space. We now have an amazing environment where we are able rehearse on our own terms…AND (listen to this, Milwaukee performing arts scene): we are planning to rent the space when not in rehearsal for one of our own shows. The sprung floor also helps with the acoustics: the room was a bit too wet prior to the installation of the deck, and now it is just right.
- Mario and Cathy Costantini at La Lune Collection: Why can’t all landlords be like Mario and Cathy? Yes, yes, yes: we are paying rent, but we are getting so much more than just a building. Thanks for the use of your forklift, your dumpster (we filled it less that 4 hours after we moved in), your really helpful office and shop staff, your attention to ALL of the details, your dogs…..in short, thanks for too much to note in one brief blog post.
- Wonderful Natural Light: The quality of natural light in the rehearsal room is unmatched from dawn to dusk. Am I exaggerating? No–and I happen to know a bit about light. (Again, attention, Milwaukee arts groups: That said, we are hanging black velour curtains on traveler tracks so that we can block the light for daytime performance events should some group find the need.)
- A Costume shop and Wig Shop OF OUR OWN for the very first time!!! (Need I say more?)
- Prop storage in the same location as staging rehearsals: Our directors and designers can now peruse our stock of hand props and choose furniture from the storage loft without leaving the building.
- Three discreet soundproofed and isolated practice rooms in the “Dungeon.” The dungeon is an affection nickname quickly given by Mario, but these rooms really do serve a fabulous purpose, and are in an ideal location. Prior to the Opera Center, our guest artists had no place to warm up their voices for rehearsals and that is a bit like asking a sushi chef to prepare a 5 star meal with dull knifes. Now, we will have warm up and coaching rooms on-site for both our visiting artists and the Florentine Opera Studio (Still with me, Arts groups? They are for rent, too, if you need a coaching location).
- Location, location, location: 5 minutes from our company hotel (The Knickerbocker on the Lake) and 7 minutes from the stage door at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, the Opera Center is ideally located at 926 E. Burleigh in Riverwest.
- Pieper Power and Ideal Plumbing: They move really fast! In about a week the boys are almost done with the HVAC installation and are close to being done with the plumbing as well.
- The Kitchen: Our food prep area will also include the washing machine and dryer for the costume shop (cheaper installation in that location and, like all not for profit arts groups, we are watching every penny).
- Our Head Carpenter, Bill, in a teeny Speedo: This really has nothing to do with the list, but I can’t end a list with #9. Let me tell you, folks, I had a look at a picture from Bill’s last vacation to Mexico and I know from his computer skills that there was no Photoshop involved.
Wait! – I realize that I neglected to place two critically important people at the top of the Best of the Best List. Wayne and Kristine Lueders are the reason why we have the rehearsal room and the practice rooms and the costume and wig shops and the production offices and the kitchen and the sprung floor in the first place – A big THANK YOU, Wayne and Kris, for making the opera center come to life!