McCaw Hall has a new singing star: Rusty the Pig.
Created by Seattle Opera Scenic Studios, Rusty appears to be
an ordinary statue—until passersby inspire him to sing!
singing pig was one of 100 pigs decorated for Pigs on Parade
2007, a celebration of the Pike Place Market’s 100th
Anniversary. Seattle Opera Master Scenic Artist Kitty
Kavanaugh designed the look of the Seattle Opera pig,
incorporating many of the same techniques that the Seattle
Opera scene shop regularly uses to make “antique” statues
and other set items for the company’s opera productions.
Studios Manager Michael Moore composed the short Italian
aria, “La Canzone del Maiale” (The Song of the Pig), that
Rusty sings, and persuaded baritone
John Boehr to give the pig a voice.
recording of Boehr’s voice was transferred to electronic
circuitry concealed in Rusty’s interior. An infra-red sensor
detects motion in front of Rusty’s snout to activate the
play-back portion of the circuitry, and an electronic timer
limits his “performances” to a maximum of once every five
“People may not
be aware that our bag of ‘backstage tricks’ frequently
includes electronic as well as mechanical wizardry,” said
Moore. “Rusty also
has a concealed on/off switch, so that he can be allowed to
take the occasional coffee break!” added Moore.
Studios team has previously built such creatures as Fafner
the Dragon, a star of Seattle Opera’s
recently completed the set for the Seattle
Opera/Metropolitan Opera co-production of
Iphigenia in Tauris,
which opens in October at Seattle Opera. Another recent
project was a collaboration with glass artist Dale Chihuly
to create the sets for the Seattle Symphony’s performances
of a concert-staged version of Bartok’s
In addition to building sets for Seattle Opera and other
theater companies, the Scenic Studios also take on other
building and design projects. In 2005, they came to the
rescue of Seattle’s famed Monorail, manufacturing eight
doors to replace those damaged during a collision.
“Those of us
who work in the non-profit realm enjoy having the
opportunity to expand our contributions to the community,”
said Moore. “Everyone here enjoyed working on a whimsical
project that will benefit the Market Foundation.”
trustee Stephen A. Sprenger sponsored the Scenic Studios’
creation of Rusty. On October 12, 2007, Rusty and the other
99 pigs will be auctioned. All proceeds will benefit the
Market Foundation’s efforts to fund the Market’s services
for low-income people. But from now until September,
visitors to McCaw Hall can visit Rusty and see if they can
inspire the pig to sing!