NZ Opera

New Zealand Opera blog

An Eye for the Job


It’s a wonder he hasn’t gone beady-eyed. But three quarters of the way through the task of threading thousands of beads for the forthcoming staging of La traviata, Hemi Wipiti grins, his eyes are alert, his fingers still nimble.

They need to be. No fewer than 27,000 beads were ordered to make the huge and glamorous curtain and chandeliers for the forthcoming staging of La traviata. The long strands which make up the curtain involve bucket loads of them. If laid length to length the threaded strands would measure 650 metres. Hemi’s fingers will get another solid work out when he sets to work on stringing beads for several big and luxurious looking chandeliers. But he’s not daunted. The sight of the magnificent and almost completed bead curtain spread over the floor at New Zealand Opera’s Onehunga Technical Centre spurs him
on. And he likes the creativity that comes with the job.

He has worked as a technical assistant on productions of Cavalliera rusticana &
Pagliacci and The Flying Dutchman and this year he became a full time technical assistant
in the workshop. There’s some multi-tasking involved when the New Zealand Opera
Wardrobe team need his help with modelling costumes to ascertain correct sizing. Hemi is
happy to oblige. The bull fighter costume he is wearing in the photo on this page is
Spanish and brought into New Zealand for La traviata to be worn on stage by Gastone.
The Wardrobe team are making eight more.

His boss, Technical Manager Steve Crowcroft sums up the spirit of the Technical Centre by saying the staff all support each other. Steve is also pleased with the finish of a massive camellia cloth backdrop for La traviata. Thirty metres long and six metres high, it was printed in Germany on a machine capable of managing such a big, continuous piece of cloth.

By Susan Buckland, Publications Editor, NZ Opera.