Monday, 28 January 2013
A night at the opera
I unexpectedly ended up at the opera last Thursday night. I've got a friend who runs an excellent art and culture website called Art Fist and he got given free tickets to Opera North's 'Otello' at the Leeds Grand Theater, the operatic version of 'Othello'. I didn't know it was an opera until I got there and was a bit perturbed when I found out. I enjoy a lot of classical music but have never found opera engaging, so my first thought was "Oh god, this is going to be slow going". We were given a quick tour of the stage and met the singer who played the part of Iago, the terribly cunning villain of the play. We were part of a group of bloggers and local writers and most of us had never seen an opera before. The staff and everyone we met who was involved with the production were all very welcoming and keen to encourage new people to experience opera, which put me at my ease and got me excited about seeing what it was all about.
So, we found our seats, settled down and it began. It was Italian but fortunately there were subtitles projected on either side of the stage so I was able to follow the dialogue. The singing was fantastic; the lack of any microphones meant that we were hearing the singers voices in their truest form, and it was very different to hearing singing through an amplifier. It took me awhile to get into it as I was trying to watch what was happening, listen to the singing and read the subtitles at the same time. Actually it was exhausting and really didn't know what to make of it until the final act. Maybe it was because I was tired or maybe because I'd got used to it, but I let it all flow over me - the music, the acting, the words - and it all seemed to come together and I found it very moving.
So, would I go to the opera again? I'm quite surprised to find that yes, I would. There were certainly some opera snobs in the audience who seemed put out that the rest of us didn't know the 'rules' - when to clap etc - but although that was annoying it certainly didn't put me off. I'm pleased that I had the opportunity to experience a medium that's totally new to me and am impressed that Opera North are trying to make the experience more accessible to a new audience, despite the evident dissaproval of a handful of snobs.