Prop Primping

Talking on the phone while trying not to burn herself with a glue gun she's using to attach lace to a serving tray, Jennifer Lorenzi is rushing to prepare for two Florida Grand Opera shows at once. "He's not specific," she says, referring to opera director Bernard Uzan. "He'll tell us what we need, and from there we decide."

Lorenzi, a prop-design apprentice at FGO, is getting ready for the Fifteenth Annual Young Artist and Technical Apprentice Production, which features the work of the singers, techies, and prop and set designers in the FGO program. With the help of their mentors, the apprentices will put on two shows: La Scala di Seta and The Old Maid and the Thief, and the tray, Lorenzi says, will play a role in the latter, a story about a spinster and her maid who take in a wayward traveler and do whatever they can to make him stay. That includes -- and here's where the tray comes in -- serving him breakfast in bed.

Old Maid is set in the '40s, and the show's set designers chose to work with muted browns, reds, and blues. So Lorenzi applied matching fabric paint to a couch, which helped accentuate its pattern. She also added metal feet, which are common in '40s-era furniture. For La Scala, the set is a refined 18th-century apartment. Chairs were made to look ornate with gilding, an illusion created with gold paint.

The 25-year-old Lorenzi doesn't plan to make a career of opera, but in the fall the Plantation resident will begin study at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Her bachelor's degree in art history got her into the apprentice program, but singers had to audition. Like apprenticeships offered by other opera companies, FGO's program provides aspiring opera careerists a chance to work in the industry and help out the company as well. Participants receive free housing, health insurance, and a weekly stipend of $150. Singers play small roles in regular productions and take center stage for the apprentice show.

Lorenzi entered the program mainly for the experience. She was inspired by study abroad in London. "I could walk to the English National Opera, and I was blown over by that," she explains. "By the talent, but also by the set and the costumes, which were just amazing."

-- John Ferri

The Florida Grand Opera's Fifteenth Annual Young Artist and Technical Apprentice Production will be presented May 7 and 9 in Miami Beach and May 10 in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $10 and $20. Call 305-854-7890. For details see "Stage" listings.

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John Ferri