| William B. Fosser's Puppet Production Opera in Focus presents
fully staged scenes from well known operas in performances that run about
one hour in length. Each performance may offer between three and five scenes,
depending on the length of the individual scene. A narration of the action
by the well known actor Tony Mockus precedes each scene. A demonstration
of the operation of the puppets and a tour of the highly technical backstage
area follows each performance.
The puppets are manipulated from below the stage floor and are capable of very life-like action and dramatic gestures for which opera singers are so famous.
When Mr. Fosser was Artistic Director of the Kungsholm, he met a gifted 17 year old puppeteer named Paul Guerra, with whom he went on to create and perform a great number of puppet opera productions. In addition to being a Master Puppeteer, Mr. Guerra, who passed away August 8th, 2007, was also a brilliant costume designer, who conceived and executed most of the beautiful and intricate costumes used in "Opera in Focus" productions. Since his passing in 2007, costuming duties have been taken over by Cat Bernier, a long-time friend of the Puppet Opera.
Shortly after opening at the Rolling Meadows Park District in December of 1993, William (Will) E. Harder joined the crew. Will had been a close friend of Mr. Fosser's since the two met in the '50s while both were working in commercial film. He remained a vital force within the Opera in Focus crew for over a decade, conceiving and executing all of the beautiful rear-screen projections used in "Opera in Focus" productions, and also manipulating our beloved conductor, Maestro Tosci (who is patterned after Arturo Toscanini). Will Harder retired at the end of the 2007 season, and continues to support the Puppet Opera with his friendship and technical expertise.
Justin & Shayne Snyder joined OPERA IN FOCUS many years ago as apprentice puppeteers and backstage technicians. During their time training with Bill Fosser, Paul Guerra, and Will Harder, they were trained in every aspect of their craft -- from the design and building of new puppets and scenery to the manipulation of the puppets. As their friendship with their mentors grew, they were personally asked by Bill Fosser to be his successors in keeping the Chicago Puppet Opera tradition alive, an undertaking they accepted with honor and dedication. Upon Fosser's passing in 2006, the Snyder brothers have maintained the theatre and continue to build new Opera in Focus productions each year. In addition to his skills as a puppeteer, Justin is also an accomplished stone carver, writer, and musician. His brother Shayne, a gifted sculptor and musician, sculpts, casts, and assembles new components for Opera in Focus puppets, in addition to being one of our Principal Puppeteers.
Barry Southerland, a longtime friend of the Snyder brothers and Bill Fosser, joined the Puppet Opera in 2005 as an apprentice puppeteer, and quickly became an integral part of the crew. A few years later, the Snyder brothers took on another talented young apprentice, Leilani Narciso, who, in addition to being a gifted puppeteer, was promoted to Stage Manager in 2011.
Although the puppet opera takes place on a stage only five feet wide and two feet deep, the illusion of live opera prevails. The puppet opera performances are capable of charming a wide range of audiences - from the lover of opera to the adult or child simply fascinated by the fine art of puppetry.
William B. Fosser (1928-2006): Creator, Master Puppeteer,
Artistic Director (1958-2006) , Set Designer, Master Puppet Craftsman
Paul Guerra (1944-2007): Master Puppeteer, Costume Designer,
Stage Director, Co-Producer
William (Will) E. Harder: Principal Puppeteer (Emeritus),
Conductor of Maestro Tosci,Projected Effects & Graphics, Creative Consultant
Tony Mockus - Narrator
Justin Snyder: Principal Puppeteer, Artistic Director (2006-Present)
Shayne Snyder: Principal Puppeteer, Master Sculptor
Barry Southerland: Puppeteer, Backstage Technician
Leilani Narciso: Puppeteer, Stage Manager
Cat Bernier: Costume Designer
Daniel P. Anderson - Sound Design
David Kaufman - Website Design, Consultant
Reservationist: Edie Schaeflin
Located In Rolling Meadows, Illinois, we wish to train interested persons as puppeteers and technicians. Good hand-eye coordination and excellent memory helpful. You must have a car. We do matinee performances on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; February thru December. We pay by the performance. If this sounds interesting and you would like more information, please call our reservations number – 847-818-3220 Ext 186 to make an appointment to see a regularly scheduled performance as our guest and an interview following the show. If you prefer you may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer your questions in a timely manner.