Carolien Meijer
Photo: Milagro Elstak

Carolien Meijer

Head of props department

1.    How and when did you start working at Dutch National Opera & Ballet  (description schooling / career)?
After completing my teacher training in handicrafts/textile work forms, I realized teaching wasn’t my calling after all. So, through a friend who was extra, I was introduced to the props department of Dutch National Opera & Ballet (DNO&B), where I started as an intern in 1991. Later, I became a permanent assistant prop maker and went through all the positions in the props department. The position I held for the longest was props foreman, a position centered around organizing the work on and around stage. Since September 2020, I have been head of this department.

2.    What makes your craft / job so special within DNO&B and what makes it so special to yourself?
All the people who work in the props workshop contribute to the operas and ballets. We also work during rehearsals and performances, and therefore we are enormously involved in the final product: our fantastic performances.

Everything that is not for sale, we make ourselves from drawings and models provided by the artistic teams. This makes great demands on our own expertise, creativity and technical understanding, because we find ourselves right in the middle of the artistic process. Props often still need to be adjusted during stage rehearsals.

Now that I no longer work on the floor, I am involved one step earlier in the production process. I help determine whether performances are technically or financially feasible. In other words, a different approach, but the same goal: to create high-quality performances.

3.         What is your favorite production seen from your craft’s / job’s perspective? What special memories do you have of it?
The ballet Coppelia with designer Sieb Posthuma was a big pleasure to work on in the workshop. Very imaginative and colorful, with plenty of room for your own input: such a pleasant designer!

I also have fond memories of Le nozze di Figaro by designer Patrick Bannwart. I worked on this production, for which hundreds of props were needed, as a first props designer.

Performances that keep you busy all the time and for which you have to go on stage to make changes are also always fun, Benvenuto Cellini by Terry Gilliam for example. There was a lot going on during this production: lots of quick changes, friendly soloists, acrobats and extras.

Last update: 04-10-2022.