Rubber ears and a recipe for blood - Backstage at Staatsoper Hamburg

Backstage is where the magic happens and it is a lot of fun to look behind the scenes, checking out the props and admire the craftmanship in the make up department. Instawalks are my kind of jam and I'm always happy when I see an opera inviting Instagramers to come by. A few months ago we were backstage at the first Instwalk at the Wagner Festspiele in Bayreuth and a few weeks ago Staatsoper Hamburg opened its doors.

Not always are journalists or bloggers invited to go. Often people who "just" enjoy the arts are invited. Do like the venues in your area on Facebook so you won't miss an announcement and you have the opportunity to be part of an Instawalk as well.

All photos below have received the app treatment.


The Hamburg State Opera is one of the oldest in Germany and was founded in 1678, it is one of the leading operas around. It has been awarded "Opera House of the year" twice in the past and everybody who is somebody has been standing on this stage. The house itself went through lots of changes and had to be rebuilt after massive damages during the second World War. Finding out interesting details about the routine backstage is what I enjoy most.
A detail like this one: Per contract it is forbidden for artists to use the elevator right before a show. Nobody wants the main voices to be stuck in the elevator!


Our walk started in the basement in between shelves of props. There is always lots to see in clear plastic containers, leaning on walls or hidden in corners.


And when you look into the small kitchen you might even leave with a recipe.
In this case "Blood" - edible and washable.
For one litre of water you'll need:
- 1 tbsp beetrood powder
- 1 tsp. guar gum
- 1 tbsp. instant coffee
This is a service announcement.


I like how the things are grouped together and also how creative prop masters need to get in order to create wonderful sets.
From the basement we went up to the hair and make up department. As it is often the case -  theatres and operas are keepers of crafts. Wigs are handmade, sometimes with the help of unusual props but often strands of hair are used to create the wigs. One hair at a time.


Let's take a closer look at the head in the front of the photo. That's what I meant when I mentioned sometimes the props are "unusual".


Yes, sometimes rubber ears will have to do.


Does this device look familiar to you? You might remember that we looked behind the scenes of the Wagner Festspiele in Bayreuth this past summer (catch it HERE). The make up department of Bayreuth and Hamburg both use these heaters to heat curling irons and work on the wigs. If it ain't broke - don't fix it, right? 


Here is a confession: I would have loved to be a theatre actor. I played a rock in elementary school and if you believe my mother, I was the best rock that ever graced a stage. Perhaps that is the reason I love to get on stage and enjoy the view into the audience?


Thank you Hamburg Staatsoper for having us! Look for #staatsoperhh on Instagram to find more backstage shots from my home town.