By Tom Lady
It all started in 1998 when none other than Maestro Plácido Domingo, renowned Spanish tenor and former General Director of LA Opera....stubbed his toe onstage. Right in the middle of an LA Opera production, no less, at LAO's flagship venue, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Even worse, no doctor was onsite to help.
And that is what gave then Opera League director and volunteer, Dr. W. Allan Edmiston, the inspiration to create Opera Docs. Chief of Cardiology at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, Dr. Edmiston has the distinction of seeing every LA Opera production from the company's beginning in 1986. He launched Opera Docs during the 1998-99 LA Opera season.
In this video, the good doctor talks about forming the team of six volunteer physicians who comprise Opera Docs, just enough to ensure one physician is at every LA Opera performance. All six doctors hail from Huntington Memorial: a cardiologist (Dr. Edmiston), a gastrointestinal specialist, a neurosurgeon, a cancer surgeon and two internists.
Dr. Edmiston takes us backstage to meet some of the LA Opera's unsung heroes and to illuminate what exactly being an Opera Doc entails from a logistical point of view.
We get a brief intro, for example, with Scott Pollack, the Music Center’s head of security and designated liaison to communicate incidents to the Doc of the day during performances. The Doc checks in with Scott half an hour before the show to make sure everything is good, then takes a seat along the orchestra’s side aisle. The Doc checks back with Scott at the end of the show to close the loop.
While Dr. Edmiston is backstage, check out the emergency kit, kept with the stage manager during the performances. The kit includes a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, bandages, splints, tape, nonprescription drugs, an EpiPen and an inhaler. As a cardiologist, Dr Edmiston has a device that can check the heart rhythm. But as a rule of thumb, the Docs avoid prescribing medication, referring singers to their own doctors.
So kick back and spend a few inspiring minutes with the original Opera Doc, Dr. Allan Edmiston.
About BRAVO Live!
BRAVO Live! is a series the Opera League launched in March 2021. Inspired by the League's flagship print publication, BRAVO (check out recent issues here and here), BRAVO Live!'s charter is to adapt BRAVO's interview format for the virtual space to spotlight today's brightest stars of the musical firmament, both in front of and behind the curtain.
By the way, if you missed previous episodes of BRAVO Live!, check them out on the Opera League's YouTube channel.
Without further ado, please enjoy episode nine of BRAVO Live! We hope you are entertained and enlightened.