New Zealand Opera's secrets revealed: A peek behind the curtain

As New Zealand Opera gears up for its next performance, they've lifted the curtain on how the production is made.

On Saturday the public got a rare look at how the country's leading operas are put together, with rehearsals and wardrobes opened for all to see for just a couple of hours.

Opera's drama and passion have wowed crowds for centuries, but behind the glitz and the glam there's a warehouse working away at the next best performance.

NZ Opera is no different.

It is prepping Le comte Ory by Gioachino Rossini in their Parnell Shed. It opens on the 30th and will travel across the country.

It's a raunchy period piece that's been brought into the modern era to make it accessible for everyone.

"It's a really risky opera, and I think it will challenge the audiences," said Tayla Alexander, a rising star on the opera scene, and performer in the upcoming show.

"That's what we want to do, to actually bring everyone in. So that's what I'd say. Opera is really fun!" 

Acclaimed director Simon Phillips said opera's jump in popularity is in part due to efforts to modernise material.

"It almost doubles the pleasure," Phillips told Newshub.

"How ridiculous a contemporary New Zealand person is speaking French and singing Italian. It doubles the dumbness of it."

Today the public got to see how it's done.

It takes an entire village of experts to create the magic on stage. Language experts prompting the singers. Pianists with the entire opera at their fingertips.

Performers have a tight turnaround between shows. New music, new languages and new choreography can be learnt in just a matter of weeks.

There are hundreds of costumes; helmets, wardrobes, props. It takes teams of contractors to design, create, fit and re-fit the costumes.

Head of wigs and makeup Karina Sanasaryan said when the hair on the head doesn't cut it, there are wigs made from real human hair.  

"They're expensive," she told Newshub. "Some of them are $30,000."

The wigs might be pricey, but a behind-the-scenes look? Priceless.  

"What have you got to lose!" Phillips said.

"Get off your fat ass and get to the opera immediately. You may as well. You may hate it, but it will be wonderful." 

A stage they hope is setting up a bright future for opera in New Zealand.