June 30, 2016

Stage Manager David Zaccaria celebrates five years at the RPO

Stage Manager David Zaccaria backstage
at the RPO
Stage Manager David Zaccaria celebrated his five year anniversary at the RPO this week on Wednesday, June 29. While his family has a long and storied history helping bring classical music to Rochester, Zaccaria’s path to the RPO has been a bit more unconventional.

“I studied culinary arts for two semesters at MCC and got an internship at Disneyland when I was 18,” explained Zaccaria. “I was just kind of doing culinary work there, but things didn’t really work out the way I anticipated. I never did finish my degree, but I’d like to go back someday.”

After an unsuccessful move to California and two years of culinary school in the bag, Zaccaria was in need of a change. After returning to Rochester, he looked to his family, who have been involved in classical music in Rochester for as long as he can remember. His grandfather, Domenic Zaccaria Sr., worked at the Eastman Theatre full-time as flyman/head electrician and his uncle is currently the stage manager of the Auditorium Theater.

While Zaccaria did not succeed his grandfather directly at Eastman, he does describe Zaccaria Sr.'s work as that of a "third hand" when the RPO used to travel up and down the east coast performing shows. Zaccaria draws a parallel between this and his current work putting on RPO shows at neighboring theaters and negotiating all the logistics that comes with. Zaccaria described his beginnings at the RPO as somewhat of a fish-out-of-water experience, but he quickly grew to love his new surroundings.

“I felt like a young man in an old man’s game,” he said, “but I was really just in the right place at the right time. I actually got my start working with orchestras as a stage hand at Local 25, a union that does stage work, and through the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which a lot my family are members of.”

Zaccaria explains his work as a stage manager with an ease and confidence that could only come from five years of experience, but it can be daunting work.

“Safety is probably the most important thing I take care of,” he said. “We have more complicated shows sometimes that involve lots of acrobatics and lighting rigs, so our job is really just to make sure that the orchestra is safe and to give the musicians anything that they might need. It’s honestly a position where not many people know exactly what we do because it’s so behind the scenes.”

As if managing more than 60 different people simultaneously wasn’t enough, Zaccaria is also in charge of making sure everyone’s requests are met and all safety precautions have been made well in advance. This can lead to some pretty stressful situations and “a lot of different personalities” to deal with, as David put it, but it’s nothing he can’t handle.

In fact, Zaccaria still manages to find time outside of the RPO to pursue some personal dreams of his.
“I’m very into real estate and in another five years or so I’d love to have an income property or an investment property,” he said. “One of my long-term goals is to open a little coffee shop or a bar and grille.”

For now, however, Zaccaria is still doing great things at the RPO. It’s a lot of work, but there’s one simple thing that makes it all worth it.

“The music is the best part,” he said. “I get to be so involved with it and I get to hear it every single day. That’s great.”

Written by Alexander Jones, a recent graduate of RIT's journalism program and current marketing and communications intern at the RPO

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