Just over a year ago I’d never seen an Opera.
And since then I’ve now seen 3, so I’m pretty much an Opera buff now, right? Honestly it had never even occurred to me to go and see an Opera until Glyndebourne invited me along to their 1940s styled production of Falstaff last year, then they also gave me a pair of tickets to Glyndebourne on tour in Norwich as well.
We’d planned to try and go back to Glyndebourne this year, but time and funds did not allow, so I was quite pleased to get an invitation from Soho Theatre to go and see a production of La Traviata by OperaUpClose.
The story of La Traviata is basically Moulin Rouge, just to make it easy for you! A Parisian Courtesan with a disease that will ultimately kill her giving up her true love to save him social ruin.
The production at Soho Theatre has been set in the 1920s, and on Friday night they were hosting a 20s Takeover and encouraging audience members to come in 1920s outfits.
Not wanting to risk my original 1920s dress on the train, I instead opted for a modern dress, with a 1920s feel to it.
♥ Kimono* – Vintage ♥ Dress* – Warehouse ♥
♥ Shoes – Mel by Melissa ♥ Handbag & Pearls – Vintage ♥
Flat shoes again you’ll notice, and I’m also wearing knee high compression socks as my physio told me I needed to wear them all the time when I’m standing. I don’t know if anyone noticed!
Oh, and tutorial for that hair do (which I did in a stupid rush before running out to get the train, argh!) can be found on my You Tube Channel
Before the performance we were treated to bubbly in the bar, and I had the chance to chat to the costume designer about putting together 1920s costumes for the stage on a budget, which was interesting.
Some of the pieces chosen are original, but mostly they are reproduction as budget constraints and fragility of original 1920s pieces means they’re not always appropriate for the stage.
A group photo was taken, in which I for some reason appear to be pulling a face like a rabbit, before we filed into the theatre for the performance.
This performance was a hugely different to the other 2 Operas I’d seen. For starters the theatre was far smaller and more intimate and the sets far less elaborate than the other productions. The entire show was shot on one set, which was altered slightly by the cast themselves under the pretence of “tidying up” to create 2 different locations, which I really liked.
Also, this time the performance was in English. The Glyndebourne Operas I had seen were in Italian and had a subtitle board that ran along the top of the stage that allowed you to keep up with the story. Watching Opera in English was a very different experience. Rather than allowing the music to simply convey the emotion and passion of a situation and glancing at the board to show the story, you had to concentrate on what the performers were actually singing in order to keep up, which made it feel very different. On the other hand, being sung in English meant you could focus on the performance, without having to keep glancing at a subtitle board which could be distracting.
Personally I feel that overall I preferred to hear the Italian versions and get carried away by the music, but being in English did make it far more accessible.
The costumes were obviously done on a budget, and I felt some were more successful than others, but this embroidered pyjama jacket in particular looked like it was an original piece, and was truly gorgeous!
The whole performance was only 2 1/4 hours long, including an interval, so if you’ve never been before and fancy giving Opera a go it’s an easy introduction and reasonably priced at £12.50 a ticket.
Visit the Soho Theatre website for tickets and information