One of my favorite moments in the season premiere of Mad Men last night was this little exchange between the now-divorced Don Draper and his dinner date, a young woman named Bethany, at Jimmy’s La Grange:
DON: So, what do you do?
BETHANY: I’m an actress, but right now I’m a super in the opera.
DON: And what is that?
BETHANY: A supernumerary. We’re the actors that fill the stage.
DON: Like the chorus.
BETHANY: No singing. I do a lot of mock drinking. I’m a wench, I’m a courtesan, part of a harem. It depends on the opera.
DON: That is truly fascinating.
BETHANY: I love the music, and I love backstage. Our costumes are as good as the singers, and I love the stories. They’re very romantic. Have you been?
DON: I have, but only for business, so I’ve never enjoyed it.
I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing Don settle into a seat at the Old Met any time soon, but I’m glad series creator Matthew Weiner, who wrote the episode, gave a shout out to supers, who are–let’s face it–the opera world’s true unsung heroes.