Obituary: Met stage manager Thomas H. Connell III, 67

Posted on: April 29, 2010

In Thursday’s (4/29) New York Times, Margalit Fox reports, “It wasn’t so much the extraordinary that kept Thomas H. Connell III on his toes—not the singing horse or the stumbling soldier or the curious incident of the dog, ‘Falstaff’ and the beckoning tree stump. It was the routine things—the fire-breathing dragons, the indoor blizzards, Valhalla collapsing in flames as the Rhine overflows—that night after night were the truest tests of his skill. A stage manager at the Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Connell spent the past three decades in a crucial though unsung job that requires the combined abilities of a musician, linguist, conjurer, computer whiz, psychotherapist and animal wrangler. … Mr. Connell died on April 18, at 67, at his home in Manhattan. The cause has not been determined, his former wife Stephanie Pierson Connell said. From 1981 until his death, Mr. Connell was the Met’s production stage manager, as the company’s chief stage manager is known. … Mr. Connell’s desk in the wings at stage right was the opera’s nerve center. There, through a headset, he gave quiet cues for every change of lighting and scenery; special effects like smoke, fire and flood; and the entrances of singers who were sometimes so nervous he had to cajole them from their dressing rooms.”

Posted April 29, 2010