Opera Is For All!

As you probably know by now, I am mad about the arts! Give me a play to watch, a book to read or an art gallery to visit and I am deliriously happy. But my ‘dark secret’ is that I love one art form above all others:opera!

Now you probably (unless you have met me) think that I am a member of the elite, one of the chattering classes but far from it. I grew up in a little mining village and I was the first member in my large family ever to go to University. I hope to show you here, in this Tortoise Soup blog, that opera is for everybody and that it is surprisingly affordable.

I have my primary school headmaster, Mr Crossley, to thank for my introduction to opera. I remember him telling an assembly, when I was eight or nine, how much he loved opera – how it was full of action and adventure and romance. That is the only assembly that I can remember but how thankful I am that it stayed with me. I kept it stored away like a hidden secret waiting for the time when it could be brought out gloriously into the open.

From the age of eighteen I started going religiously to the theatre but as yet I had not found my true love. Then it happened – one day around ten years ago I saw that a touring opera company were performing Madama Butterfly at the local theatre. Mr Crossley’s words came back to me and I booked the best seat that I could afford. That night my eyes and ears were opened. It was incredible to see how such a slight woman that played Butterfly could produce such an incredible voice. When she sang ‘Un Bel Di Vedremo’ the hairs on my neck literally stood up. When she hit that incredibly high note as she sang defiantly that her love would return the tears welled in my eyes and the whole theatre stood and applauded. I was hooked!

Since that day I go to watch as many operas as I can, and have become a particular fan of Puccini: the master of high emotion and soaring tunes. And here is the best bit, the bit that maybe some opera fans like to keep secret. Sshhh, watching opera is dirt cheap! I go to watch opera many times every year at the very heart of Opera land: The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden! And my tickets cost less than ten pounds every time!

Yes there are seats at the front that cost many hundreds of pounds but there are also dozens of seats for every performance costing twenty pounds or less. I always grab a ‘bench seat’ for a handful of pounds but believe me even the benches are luxurious. You don’t have to worry that you won’t understand what is going on – there are surtitle boards (‘surtitle’ rather than ‘subtitle’ because the board is above rather than under the stage) that translate every word. The music is incredible, and the singing is literally heavenly: I often leave the Opera House in raptures wondering how humans can sing as beautifully as that. And the story lines are great as well – they thrive on the dramatic, on life and death struggles. If you love the theatre, then you will love opera. If you love musicals, then you will love opera. If you love the soaps, then you will love opera.

I am so excited because tomorrow I take a deserved week out of my writing schedule and I head to London, to Covent Garden, to watch Wagner’s Ring Cycle. The Ring is a series of four operas that explore the tragedy of Wotan and the Norse gods. Like so much of opera you will know many of the tunes – the Ride Of The Valkyries is a classic that everybody knows. Four seminal operas in one week, I feel as if Christmas has come early.

Please give opera a go, it is cheap, it is beautiful, it is melodic and frankly marvellous. Opera isn’t just for the gentry and the well-to-do, it is for you and I. I hope to see you there one day at Covent Garden in the cheap but oh so wonderful seats!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ms Spider
    Sep 24, 2012 @ 07:28:46

    Fab post, v hard to ‘sell’ opera to proletariat but you converted me – altho i have mixed feelings on Butterfly, naturaly. make another post on powerful inspiring female protaganists?B-)

    And while in cov garden don’t forget to visit the moomins ah i am jealous!!


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