Supernumerary FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Supernumerary Roles


What is a supernum­erary?
A supernumerary (or “super”) is a non-speaking, non-singing role in an opera. (Just like being an “extra” in a film.)

What is the time commitment required to be a super?
Depending on the opera and the number of scenes in which supers are scheduled to appear, there will be 10-15 rehearsals (this includes the technical rehearsals and dress rehearsals), and 2-3 performances of each opera. It is very important that supers are available and on time for each rehearsal.

May my child be a super?
There are often super roles for children (the number of available roles depends on the opera and its requirements). If there are no roles for children, we will do our best to inform you prior to the super call via this website.

Is being a Super a paid position?
No. Supers are volunteers. However, there is a parking allowance for rehearsals attended at Music Hall. This does not apply at sites where free parking is provided.



What is the super call?
The super call is a large casting call we have for anyone interested in being a super for the Cincinnati Opera.

What can I expect to happen at the super call?
Everyone will fill out an application with general contact information. You will be given basic dates for each opera (available on this website as well) to determine your availability for the shows in the season. We will take a photograph of each person and get some basic measurement information for costumes. Once everyone goes through this process, there will be a brief welcome and information session. You do not need to bring a resume or photo.

When/where is the super call?
Typically the last week of April or the first week of May in the rehearsal studio at Music Hall.

What if I can’t come to the super call?
While we prefer for you to attend the super call if possible, we do understand that some conflicts are unavoidable. If you are unable to attend the super call, please send an email to The super captain will contact you to make alternative arrangements to get your information.

After the super call, what can I expect to happen?
There is usually a three week waiting period while the stage directors review the applications and go through the casting process. Once supers have been selected for each opera, the super captain will call those individuals and offer them roles. After everyone has accepted/denied roles and alternates have been placed, individuals we were unable to place will receive a letter in the mail. Your patience is appreciated–we strive to respond to all candidates within three weeks of the Super Call.

How many super positions are available each year?
It depends on which operas we are performing and how many cast members the director is requesting for each production. It can vary greatly—some seasons we will have 80 supers during the summer and some seasons we will have 80 in the first production!

Why are there so many more male super roles than female super roles?
Historically in opera, there are just more male super roles (such as groups of soldiers and livery) than female roles.

Do I have to be a certain age or ethnic group to be considered to be a super?
Absolutely not. Sometimes directors will request certain roles have certain features or characteristics, but most often there are no specifications and everyone is eligible.

Do I need to have any special physical abilities to be a super?
Generally no; sometimes stage directors will ask that certain roles have certain abilities, but typically there are roles available with no prior skills or experience required. Keep in mind standing for a long period of time in costumes and shoes is a frequent request of supers.

Do I have to have prior stage experience to be a super?
Certainly not: everyone will be considered! Many long-time supers here at Cincinnati Opera had no stage experience before they joined our company as a super.

What happens during the process of casting supers?
After the super call applications are processed, we sort them by availability. We then meet with the costume department to determine who will best fit into various costumes and consider any specific talents/requests that the stage directors have made. Based on these combined factors, we recommend the list of supers and the positions are offered upon approval from the artistic/production team. If for some reason, someone is not available or chooses not to be a super when a role is offered to them, we refer to our alternate list and select the next qualified individual to fill the role.


How do I find out what the potential rehearsal dates are?
The season performance and rehearsal dates are listed on the rehearsal website. This will include the first day of rehearsal through the performance dates. While you will not be called for all of the rehearsals within this timeframe, it gives you an idea of how to plan. If you know you are going to be out of town, etc… please keep that in mind when determining your availability. All rehearsals, especially those onstage, are mandatory.

If I accept a super role, will the schedule be exactly what is given to me?
The schedule is ALWAYS subject to change. While we have calendars with overall views of the rehearsal days and times, we print the actual schedule the evening prior. Sometimes we have the schedule at 6pm, but some days we will not have a final schedule until 11pm. We do our best to inform you as soon as possible of any changes to the rehearsal schedule. However, please know that it is your responsibility to know when you are called for rehearsals. You can call the Super Hotline (# for 2009 is TBD) to get the latest version of the schedule or you can always check on line at This site is updated each time the schedule is changed.

How important is it for me to be at all the rehearsals?
It is very important for everyone to attend all rehearsals to which they are called. This is extremely important so the director does not have to take valuable time when that scene is next rehearsed to re-teach the staging. There is not a lot of rehearsal time in our summer schedule, so every minute counts.

What are the typical rehearsal hours I can expect?
It depends on the show, the schedule and the directors. However, we are mindful that you have work and other commitments outside of the opera and try our best to schedule supers into rehearsals in the evenings and weekends.

What can I expect during a rehearsal?
Much of this will depend on the director and stage manager. We try to use your time wisely, but there may be times that you are sitting on the side of the room while a director is working with a principal artist or while the chorus is being staged. Part of the magic of being in the opera is having the opportunity to watch and take in the entire rehearsal process, so take these opportunities to observe everything that is happening around you.

What about parking for rehearsals?
Parking is available at the meters surrounding Music Hall. You may also use the WGUC/ WCET parking garage on the corner of Central Parkway and Ezzard Charles. The garage charges $1.50 for the day if there is not an event going on at Music Hall (the fee rises to $5.00 when there is an event).

Is food provided during the longer rehearsals?
No, but you may bring meals and/ or snacks. As long as you are not in costume you may consume food while you are waiting before and during the show.

Why are supers typically asked to arrive so much earlier than other cast members?
Once we get to technical rehearsals and performances, supers have to have their wig/makeup appointments done prior to the chorus’ arrival. The chorus arrives one hour prior to the show and they get into costume, wigs and makeup at 30 minutes before curtain. By this time all supers must be in makeup so the chorus can be processed next.

How can I sign up to get more information on being a super?
Any questions may be sent to Please be aware that the super captain works seasonally (April through July), so while the email will be monitored in the off season, you may not get a response immediately.



What is lightwalking?
Lightwalking is an exciting opportunity to be “behind the scenes”. Lightwalkers volunteer to come in for 2-4 hour sessions (depending on what you can fit into your schedule) and walk around the stage as the director and designers finesse the technical cues for the shows. This is a great way to see a side of the Opera many never get the chance to witness. Every hour of lightwalking may earn you an additional guest pass to the final dress rehearsal.

How do I sign up to be a lightwalker?
Please send an email to providing your name and phone number. Please remember that this email account is checked periodically during the off season. The super captain will contact you in the spring to confirm you are still interested and available.

Will I receive free tickets for the performances?
Each super receives (2) guest passes to the final dress rehearsal for the opera in which they participate. We do not offer complimentary tickets for the actual performances, however if you show your Performer’s Entrance Card at the Box Office, you will receive a 15% discount on all the tickets you purchase. If you have more people you would like to attend the dress rehearsal, remember you can always sign up for lightwalking to earn more passes.

If I am not selected as a super for the summer, are there other ways for me to be involved with the Cincinnati Opera?
Yes, you may volunteer to be a lightwalker. Lightwalkers are thanked with dress rehearsal passes to the final dress of the production for which they walk.

What is the best way to get more roles?
Be reliable. Knowing when you have rehearsal and being on time, paying attention to direction you are given, remembering your staging, and being as flexible as your job/life allow you to be when the schedule changes are all great ways to become a long time super with the Cincinnati Opera.

Will I get to meet my favorite star?
Sometimes. It just depends on the artist – some may be very friendly and talkative and others are very focused and do not chat much while they are working. It’s always good to go with the rule of not trying to strike up a conversation with them, let them start one with you.

Do I have to provide my own costumes if I accept a role as a super?
No, the wardrobe department will provide you with a full costume for your role and you will be asked to come in for a fitting.

Can supers go to the cast parties and company events each season?
Cast parties are usually limited to principal artists, donors and staff. However, you are invited to the company salute at the end of the season. In addition, there is a super party at the end of the summer for everyone who has volunteered as a super.

What type of security is provided at Music Hall during night time rehearsals?
If there is a nighttime rehearsal in Music Hall, there will always be a security guard on duty at the Central Parkway Performer’s Entrance door and at the garage at the end of the rehearsal.

If I accept a role, will I be responsible for my own hair and makeup?It depends on the production and the design. We always provide make-up supplies. Sometimes you will have a wig or make-up which will be applied by the make-up department and sometimes you will use your own hair and apply makeup yourself. The super captain or the Makeup Department will give specifics.

As a man, is it possible that I will need to grow/ shave my facial hair?
Yes, it is quite possible. On the application at the super call there will be a question as to whether you are willing to shave or grow your facial hair.