Diehard local opera-goers wouldn’t be likely to do a double-take if they bumped into Rita Cantos Cartwright in the grocery store. But they’ve likely seen Cartwright before: she’s sung in 71 operas as part of the San Diego Opera Chorus over the last couple of decades.

How could they recognize her? Her voice might have mingled with more than a hundred others, and she’s usually covered with wigs, makeup and costumes.

In the opera’s current performance of “Turandot,” Cartwright, 62, plays a Chinese peasant and a member of the royal court. Valerie Scher shares a day-in-the-life with the usually unidentified voice in the crowd.

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Local theater connoisseur Pat Launer found another voice in the crowd, that of 8-year-old Claire Timmons Nelson, making her opera debut, in a story in the La Jolla Patch.

In a segment that aired Friday, KPBS arts producer Angela Carone takes us backstage with the opera’s set design crew as it assembles famed artist David Hockney’s setting for “Turandot.” The opera’s head carpenter, John David Peters, has been putting together opera sets for more than 40 years. Peters is one-half of a backstage power-couple; we met his wife, stage manager Mary Yankee Peters, a couple of years ago.

Meanwhile, we’ve been peeking behind closed doors at the San Diego Museum of Art as staff figure out the best way to present the paintings constituting a new exhibit there. As that exhibit of British painters neared its opening last weekend, curators and plain-clothes workers decided on the best order for those paintings.

And our blogger Dani Dodge and photographer Sam Hodgson were on hand late last week as the exhibit opened to select donors and members. We put together a roundup of this process, from blank walls to an exhibition you can now go see.

This is the Arts Report, our roundup of the news and stories that drove the arts community in San Diego this week — as reported in our own pages and elsewhere around town.

‘Measure the Fireplace’:

• You’ve heard about the Imperial Beach tagger who’s now selling his art in gallery shows. But what about the guy who investigated and busted him? Keegan Kyle asks Sheriff Deputy Zheath Sanchez: Would you buy any of the tagger’s work? “Maybe after I retire, I don’t know. It’s funny because some of the pieces he has for sale are the art pieces he had in his house and I took pictures of for evidence.”

• A couple from Rancho Santa Fe began collecting art just seven years ago, but they’ve got the bug. They agree on their favorite: The husband, Frank Rogozienski, had been in Austria to buy another painting but when he spotted one painted by 17th-century Italian painter Giuseppe Nuvolone, he couldn’t pass it up.

“‘He called me in the middle of the night and said, ‘Measure the fireplace, this painting is humongous and I think I’m going to get it.’ And he did,’” said Demi Rogozienski.” (Rancho Santa Fe Review)

In other news:

• Two new temporary public artworks will be displayed in Solana Beach at an installation cost to the city’s public art fund of about $500 each. (Del Mar Times)

• February is Museum Month: You can check out a ton of museums (and bring three friends along with you) for half price by getting a pass at Macy’s. Here are more details.

• The U-T’s theater critic, James Hebert, has published a dizzying number of reviews and stories about upcoming plays in local theaters this week. You can check out his recent stories here.

‘A Bunch of Dudes’ and 15 Gongs at the Opera:

• Alice Hartsuyker seems the kind of person you hope you sit next to at the opera. Kinsee Morlan captures the veteran opera-goer’s take on the 2011 season. Full disclosure: Alice is a member of and donor to VOSD. (CityBeat)

• A blogger who sees live music in San Diego nearly every night went to the “incredible” opera this weekend and explained what she saw in plain terms — “a bunch of dudes,” a prince who’s a “dense emo-boy” — to the rest of her rock- and indie-music-loving readers. (SDDialedIn)

In a more conventional review, the Union-Tribune’s James Chute found some parts stirring, others lacking.

The performance is certainly not lacking in numbers. “Turandot” includes six acrobats, 30 wigs, three riddles — here’s my numerical look at the show. Sam Hodgson snapped a number of vivid shots at the second-to-last rehearsal last week.

• A personal note: My band, The Tree Ring, whose recording project I told you about last fall, released a new music video in anticipation of our record coming out in a couple of weeks. You can watch the video here, and Angela Carone notes the talented San Diego art- and film-minded friends of ours who made the video happen. (KPBS)

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Please contact Kelly Bennett directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531 and follow her on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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