Jan 14, 2009

Don't cut out the Middle Man!

If Xanax took a human form, it would be Cliff Wilson.

Allow me to explain. Cliff is Opera Cleveland's Artistic Administrator, meaning he's sort of the middle man between artists (the singers, directors, designers, etc) and the opera company. He exists to make their jobs easier.

Which means his job is hell-a difficult. I saw this firsthand when I spent a day working alongside him.

Cliff spends a lot of time talking about artists and production staff with Dean Williamson (our Artistic Director, for those of you who haven't hopped on the clue bus yet). And, indeed, one of our first orders of business was talking to him on the phone.

Dean selects the artists, Will draws up contracts and Cliff follows through. He functions as a travel agent, real estate agent and general concierge. (Oh, bell boy!) I spent part of my day with him looking at continental.com for flights for our Barber of Seville singers. Cliff doesn't deal with just flights, there's also cars to rent (and staffers to beg to drive to Parma with him to pick up said cars) and Visa petitions to complete. (Ok, so there's just one Visa petition this year, but two words about that: NOT FUN.)

Basically, Cliff makes sure the artists have everything they need (information-wise and comfort-wise) before they arrive--and after they arrive, too. (He gives directions to Whole Foods and Trader Joes ad nauseum.)

While I was working with Cliff, we received a shipment from FedEx of Barber of Seville scores for our orchestra and chorus. This is yet another thing Cliff manages. Like with our Barber sets or costumes, we have rented the scores--in this case from Boston Lyric Opera. Cliff explained to me that soloists are responsible for their own scores. Often they have performed the role before and have marked a score for their own usage.

Remember way back when I talked about supernumeraries and pick-up artists? Cliff again. He manages the volunteers who are "extras" on stage, who "light walk" and who pick up artists from the airport.

Cliff Wilson: All this and more!

And...I'm going to take a nap now.


vkwheels said...

Cliff is looking quite the snappy dresser these days...

Angela said...

"if Xanax took human form it would be Cliff" How true!