This article is for you if you’re a behind-the-scenes kind pf person: the administrative assistant who gets the presentation ready for the guys in marketing but doesn’t get to go to the meeting; the PR pro who writes all the CEO’s speeches and answers all the complain letters; the at-home mother who makes sure the concert pianist practices; the deputy chief whose job description is doing all the things the chief doesn’t like to do or can’t do; or the paralegal who prepares all the pleadings, knows all the codes, and does all the licking and stamping.

This article is also for you if benefit from the work of one of those people.

Temistocle Solear, Antonio Ghislanzoni, Henri Meilhac, Jules Barbier, Michael Carre, Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica, Renato Semoni, and Nicola Haym all know what this is like.

Who on earth are these people?

Well, even if you’re not an opera fan, I bet you’ve heard of the composers Verdi, Bizet, Mozart, Strauss, Gounod, Handel, Donizetti and Puccini. And I’m sure you’ve heard of some of their operas: Aida, Carmen, Cosi fan Tutte, Madama Butterfly, Faust and Don Giovanni, for instance.

Did you know that these composers wrote the music for their operas, but not the lyrics? Solear, Ghislanzoni and the other individuals in the list are what’s called “librettists.” It is they who wrote the words (the libretto) the opera singers sing, without which you would be listening to a symphony, not an opera. And we never hear their names! In most cases, the words were written first, and then the composers whose names we know so well, wrote the music.

Like Gilbert and Sullivan, they worked together in pairs.

The inimitable Richard Wagner was the only one to compose all his own operas entirely by himself, creating both music and lyrics, which may account for why they are so powerful, so Wagnerian. This is quite a feat because composing music and writing words require different parts of the brain.

Sometimes the composer and librettist met in person, while other times they worked via correspondence. Strauss worked exclusively with one librettist, after writing his own lyrics for his first opera and finding out he wasn’t good at it, but most other composers switched around, finding the right librettist for the job, or one who was available. It’s not unlike the way many of us work these days, long-distance and by contract.

What an incredible collaboration an opera is. It takes costume and set designers as well, because an opera is as much visual as it is auditory, and it is what makes Grand Opera, grand. In the Santa Fe opera’s production of “Turnadot,” when the moon appeared, she iwas personified and costumed in a magnificence that seemed to dominate the stage for half an hour. Another opera I hope to see one day is Verdi’s “Aida,” I mean Verdi and Ghislanzoni’s “Aida,” on stage at the Bath of Caracalla in Rome. The Triumphal March of Rhadames features live elephants and horses on stage. Now that’s entertainment!

What we don’t see at an opera is the orchestra, a crucial element. They’re listed in the program, of course, and given their bows at the curtain call, but we only hear them, seated below in the orchestra pit.

Many elements go together to produce the opera as see that bears the name of one man only.

Take “Turnadot” for instance. It was librettist Semoni who gave Puccini the suggestion for the opera in the first place, telling him about Turandotte, a play written by Gozzi, based on a fable from the Arabian Nights.
Puccini had been searching for two years for a suitable plot for an opera, and at the age of 61, began “Turandot,” instructing his librettists, Adami and Semoni, to “pour great pathos into the drama.” Puccini, of course, is know for the most beautiful melodies in opera. He was also know for being extremely demanding, requiring endless rewrites from his librettists.

From his point of view, however, the librettists were difficult. We can read his letters begging them to do their work. Semoni was in charge of Act III, and Puccini’s letters beg, “The third! The third! The third!”

At one point, he confessed to a friend “Music disgusts me,” as he evidently had periods of self-doubt and composer’s block. Toscanini paid him a visit and gave him the encouragement to keep going. Every team has their Toscanini; or should.

Puccini was justified in urging completion of the opera as he died before the completion of the third act. The collaboration continued, as Toscanini found a composer named Franco Alfano, whose name is rarely mentioned, to complete it. The world premier took place on April 25th, 1926, the work of one guiding genius and many hands, hearts, and minds.

It isn’t that teamwork and collaboration is new, it’s that it’s newly being recognized. Most of us realize we couldn’t accomplish anything alone, while those behind the scenes who work long and willing hours, long for some recognition. “Appreciation,” after all, top the list when employees talk about what they want at their job. It’s number one so consistently, it’s a wonder it isn’t heeded more.

Richard Montuori, town manager of Bellica, Massachusetts, knows and appreciates his team. I love [my] job, he said in a newspaper interview. “Every day is different and presents new challenges. Finances are a daily and yearly challenge, but no one person ever accomplishes anything alone. We have excellent department heads and town boards that help keep the town moving in the right direction.”
Isn’t it nice to hear someone publicly acclaim the team that makes them shine? I hope your boss or manager does this for you, and that if you’re the boss or manager, you appreciate and acknowledge and sing the unsung heroes in your midst.

But how do you praise everyone? There are always so many.
Here’s a leadership trick I learned from a pro. At the culmination of a fundraising banquet engineered by many, and funded by many more, the director of the benefited-agency rose and thanked everyone who helped make it possible. Then he added, looking around the room, “and

I’d especially like to thank someone – you know who you are – who made this happen.”

I thought it was me! So did many other people, I’m sure, and that was what the director had in mind, he told me later when I asked him whom he had in mind, because his glance around the room was professionally ambivalent.

It works. And it’s always, always true.

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach. Individual coaching, Internet courses and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your personal and professional development. Business programs. Coach certification program (no residency requirement). for more information and fr** ezine.