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Pulling back the curtains on L.A. Opera's 'Tosca'

How do you catch a falling star soprano?

With two strong men and a thick safety mat if you're backstage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The moment Sondra Radvanovsky, as the doomed prima donna in L.A. Opera's “Tosca,” took her final bloody plunge into the hereafter, it wasn't just an adoring audience cheering her on. Mostly unseen was a team of nearly 200 — stage managers, set movers, prop masters, makeup artists, wardrobe assistants, orchestra players, chorus singers, and many others all led by general director Plácido Domingo.

REVIEW: With 'Tosca' Los Angeles Opera goes for grand

The backstage pros ensured that wigs held tight, guns sounded real (extra shots popped offstage), children were dirt-smeared, blood (zesty-mint flavored) flowed properly, and walls weighing 400 to 1000 pounds rose smoothly. A soldier's drum march required not only a backstage drummer but an assistant conductor in sync with the “maestro cam,” a live feed of Domingo leading the orchestra.

The Times' Lawrence K. Ho captured the action.

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