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"I was understudying the Angel of Death," Francesca DeRenzi MacBeth told me. "Imagine how thrilling it was to be a young dancer on the Metropolitan Opera stage — even if I was delivering bad news to the star, who was rehearsing alone with me." "Who was it?" I asked. She closed her eyes before answering. "Placido Domingo." Today, MacBeth, 31, is a production stage manager for the Sarasota Opera. She is in rehearsals for Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, which opens on March 1. "I'm much more suited to this role!" she said. A dance injury forced her to reconsider her career path. Did she want to endure a long rehabilitation or try other opportunities in the opera world? Job opportunities soon appeared. "Early on, I did everything," she explained. "For one show, I handled all sched- uling and load-ins (moving in scenery). I was both animal wrangler and child wrangler! I learned how to be a property mistress and an assistant director. Then came the terrifying job of acting." "Terrifying?" I asked. "More than that," she responded. "For me, it was debilitating. I can now empathize with actors in my shows." In a baptism of fire, she was once produc- tion stage manager for a national tour group On board: Francesca MacBeth will cue the ship on and off stage for seven performances of The Flying Dutchman at the Sarasota Opera. Photo by Fran Palmeri A DEW DROP FAIRY RETURNS TO SARASOTA TO THRIVE OFF STAGE SPREADING HER WINGS By Barbara Dondero Contributing Writer

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