Thursday, July 17, 2008

Had an enjoyable evening out at the Royal Opera House watching Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) . I didn't enjoy it as much as my companion did, but then again, he is an avid opera fan, having grown up on classical music, while I'm at the other end of the spectrum, not really having listened to anything classical other earlier this year, when, for some reason I am not at all able to recall, my companion passed me a whole bunch of classical music things to listen to after I'd mentioned this particular gap in my musical repertoire.

While I was initially incredibly resistant to watching this show - I felt it was way too expensive (my ticket cost close to £140) and that it was too long (clocking in at 3 hours 30 mins inclusive of interval) - I eventually relented after I read that Le nozze di Figaro was considered the perfect introduction to opera. I'm the kind of person who will try anything once, and given how strongly my companion felt about it, I thought, what the hey, it will be fun to watch it with someone who's really passionate about it. 

I'm told that the cast we watched tonight was world-class and the production, absolutely superb. I don't doubt that but will admit that my enjoyment of the show was marred slightly by not really knowing how an opera works, managing to get a neckache after 30 minutes into Act 1 as a result of my focus on the surtitles so that I would be able to follow what was going on.

The music was superb. The orchestra played well with Charles MacKerras conducting. I'm honestly not an expert when it comes to these things but I liked the wind instruments the most. I quite enjoyed Figaro's (Ildebrando D'Arcangelo) song about "calling the tune" if his master wanted to dance, as well as Cherubino's (Anna Bonitatibus) Voi che sapete in Act 2. I was left a little breathless by the Countess Almaviva's (Barbara Frittoli) Dove Sono in Act 3. I suspect if I were as into opera as my companion was, my heart would most likely have broken during that song, so beautiful was it. As it was, I thought it was the most beautiful song that I had ever listened to that I didn't understand, if you get what I mean.

When the cast and conductor came onstage for their curtain call, they looked spent. After over 3 hours of singing and playing, it was no wonder. Charles MacKerras, being the octagenarian that he is, looked especially exhausted. I have no idea how these people do it. I mean, ten minutes into the exceptionally fast dance routine my dance teacher decided to teach us yesterday, I was panting like nobody's business!

I guess Le nozze di Figaro will be special for both my companion and me: me, because it's the first opera I have ever seen and also my first time ever in the Royal Opera House, and I got to see it with someone who loves the show, while, for him, it's his favourite opera, and has a magical cast, and, well, he saw it with me. And last, but not least, his asking me to go for this - purely as friends initially - initiated a rather interesting series of events which, hopefully, neither one of us will regret in the long-term.

As I'm not much of an opera critic, I'll end off by linking to a few, far worthier reviews of the show than what I've just written.
The Opera Critic - This Figaro Should Run and Run
This is London - Servant Turns Master in Nozze di Figaro - Le Nozze di Figaro
Planet Hugill - Review of The Marriage of Figaro

The next few shows on my schedule are Monkey (Damon Albarn's adaptation of Journey to the West and performed entirely in Mandarin with English surtitles) next week and Don Giovanni (also by Mozart) in September, again with the same fellow, again at the Royal Opera House.

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