Opera For Beginners

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Are you already a lover of all things Opera or are you, like me, slightly unsure where to begin?

Catherine Clayton-Young gives us a little insight to start us off on the right note (see what I did there?).

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Puccini’s La Boheme…

It’s a strange old world going to the opera. It is considered so inaccessible to many, and yet it’s the most wonderful evening. I like visiting the theatre, going to shows, live comedy, anything that is liveand real. However, I can honestly say that nothing beats the thrill and the emotion of the opera.

Saturday evening brought me to another (more accessible) Ellen Kent production at the Opera House in Manchester. I sat with a local critic, who was on his own, and we chatted at length in the two intervals about the staging, the voices, the acting and the odd inadequacies we both felt the production brought.

Ellen Kent was actually in the house that evening, and he was whisked away to meet her. Interestingly she was talking about the beautiful set design, I am always stunned by the sets in her productions, but this one had been inspired by four different impressionist painters. We didn’t find out which ones, and spent a while thinking that over in the final act.

I wept in two of the four acts, a result by my measure.

If you have a hankering to try out the opera here is a quick guide

  1. You don’t dress up, not in Manchester! I just wear jeans.
  2. Bring tissues. The raw emotion hits you very powerfully.
  3. They have surtitles. A screen above the stage with the words in English. Beware, the words can make you giggle, we were listening to a beautiful aria, only to discover the bass tenor was singing about his coat.
  4. Puccini is a great place to start.
  5. Be prepared to fall in love with the experience. It’s strikingly contagious.

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