Theatre Props


This week Sepia Saturday has suggested all things wine related as our theme.  What to do?

Have a look at the photo in the header.

Is that two bottles of wine on the table ?  Or is it one bottle of wine and one bottle of something else ?  I don’t think they are bottles of  tomato sauce   After all it is Paris.

Vera 1989

And this is a picture of my mother, Vera Fricke, taken on her 90th birthday in 1989.  Little did she know that one day this photo of her would go soaring around the world for many people to see.

So what is the connection between  my mother and the bottle of wine in the header image ?

I copied the header image from the front cover of a theatre program for a production of La Boheme in  1987, a performance my mother had attended.  Geelong was one of eight Victorian country towns where the show was presented by the Victoria State Opera.. It was early in the professional careers of a Girl from Geelong and a Boy from Ballarat, Cheryl Barker and David Hobson who played Mimi and Rodolfo

La Boheme 1987 programIt was a pleasure to see Cheryl Barker performing again in her home town  as I had first seen her as a teenager in the lead role of the Belmont  High School production of The Pajama Game, more than ten years earlier

Later in the early 1990s  the same pair  played the same roles in Sydney but this time the production was in the hands of Australian film director Baz Luhrmann  (The Great Gatsby, Moulin  Rouge, etc) with the design in the hands of his wife Oscar Winning designer  Catherine Martin. The opera  was  set in 1957 for this production and is now on video.

Here is an excerpt from Act i where Mimi and Rodolfo have just met and exchange information about themselves.  Enjoy. I know I do.

La Boheme was the first opera I saw on a stage in the late 1950s and has remained my favorite. That was in Melbourne long before the Victoria State Opera existed.  But Mr Google hasn’t been able to help me trace the performance. Among my many memories of that night is the entrance of Musetta in Act Two.  The result of her shopping is on the floor beside her.  An oval-shaped hat box is accidentally knocked over as a result of which it rolled towards the front of the stage ker-lunk…ker-lunk…ker-lunk… and bounced off one of the musicians in the orchestra pit while the singers sang on without missing a beat.  I’m sure there would have been some wine bottles among the theatre props on that night too.

See more wine related stories on this week’s Sepia Saturday.

11 thoughts on “Theatre Props

  1. Barbara

    Well, you just made my morning, thank you! I didn’t expect to visit you and have the pleasure of listening to an excerpt from La Boheme. It was perfect timing as I had just poured a cup of tea, so I’m sitting here dreaming the morning away.


  2. Barb Rogers

    I thought I might not comment, since I’m not a fan of opera…though I have enjoyed theatrical performances many times. So instead I’ll say I did listen to the clip which was very beautiful. What talented actors/singers! A bottle of wine is a great theme.


  3. ScotSue

    La Boheme – the first grand opera I saw as a teenager when Mum and I travelled to see Sadlers Wells Opera visiting a nearby city,. I cried buckets at the end. It was my mother’s favourite opera and remains one of mine. Thank you for rekindling the memory.


  4. Little Nell

    Wonderful! The sublime Puccini and one of my favourite operas. My mother took me to see it when I was nine years old and I was hooked from then on. Thank you so much for this clip and introducing me to these talented singers.


  5. boobook48

    I really enjoyed this post B, and the clip you chose. It’s great that you have a horde of theatre programs to dip into.
    PS I’ve forwarded the link to Jenny from book group who is writing a history of Belmont High.


  6. jofeath

    I’m not a big fan of classical music or opera, but I have inherited my mother Jean’s classical collection, including a CD of David Hobson, who was one of her favourites. No La Boheme, but there could well have been, as I have given a lot away, I must confess.


  7. Mike Brubaker

    Wine figures in one of my opera tales too. It was not in La Boheme but Carmen. I was playing in the orchestra where the musicians in the pit can see none of the stage action, and hear very little of the singing. At some point a wine glass/bottle was accidentally overturned, and we can hear the crash. But 20 seconds later a long tribble of “wine” pours over the lip of the stage onto my music. It was difficult to keep playing my horn while trying not to laugh.



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