How the Met’s Prop-Shop Magic Makes Trucks Move Onstage

Good morning. It’s Monday. We’ll find out what drives the trucks on the stage in “Carmen” at the Metropolitan Opera. We’ll also get details on subway service on the 1, 2 and 3 lines after the derailment last week on the Upper West Side.

Aigul Akhmetshina, center, on a tractor-trailer in “Carmen” at the Metropolitan Opera.Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Three pickup trucks and a tractor-trailer ride across the stage in the Metropolitan Opera’s new modern-dress production of “Carmen.”

They are not traditional opera props — tables, chairs, chalices, swords, maybe a horse for “Aida” — and don’t look under any of the hoods. Their engines have been taken out. You wouldn’t want the cast and the chorus smelling exhaust fumes backstage as the trucks and a little red sports car wait to drive out from the wings.

When they do, their wheels are spinning as the cast sings and dances in the semi and in the pickups — a 1980 Chevrolet, a 1978 Chevy and a Ford that Gabrielle Heerschap, the Met’s associate technical director, said “might be from the ’90s.” The little red car is a Jaguar, for Don José, whose obsession with Carmen becomes murderous.

The Met has had vehicles on its stage before, in recent versions of “Lucia di Lammermoor” and “Rigoletto,” among others. But those vehicles mostly stayed in fixed positions. Michael Levine, the set designer of “Carmen,” wanted the vehicles to move and said he had “naïvely” assumed they could be outfitted with small electric engines for their trips back and forth across the stage.

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