A bit of culture

February 8th, 2006 · No Comments

Terribly sorry chaps! I intended to post on Saturday having had a very unique experience but didn’t get round to it until now. Fear not, I will post twice this week ;)

I went to the English National Opera to see their performance of The Mikado. It’s a Gilbert & Sullivan classic and is technically an operetta and not an opera.

The Coliseum by day (you would have your back to Trafalgar Square in this shot)

Anyway, venue first – reivew second. The home of the ENO is the Colisuem, which is very easily identifiable from the spinning globe on the roof which can be seen from Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross (it’s pretty much smack bang between the two). The tickets are very reasonably priced, we paid £15 and we were up in what I’ve always called ‘the gods’ (ie right at the back and at the top). We were actually a little further forward than the very back as there are £10 seats also. The price of the seats varies depending on the production but there are concessions for students and if you take your ID along just before a show is due to begin, if there are any stalls left you can buy them up very cheaply. If you fancy it you can hire the Royal Box – there are four seats and you must purchase them all – even if you’re on your own. Oh yes, one last thing, you can see and hear perfectly well from where we were seated so don’t let the seating plan on the website put you off – I thought I’d need the Hubble Telescope to be able to see the stage but it’s not the case at all. The performance started at 7.30pm and finished a little after 10pm, there is an interval but be advised it’s not very long at all – no more than 10 minutes.

The review! Well, it was my first time at the Opera/operetta and I really enjoyed myself. The music was really powerful the performances were very good and for a first night they did splendidly well. The first act was a little slow moving but features the famous song: “Three Little Maids From School”. The second act was much better than the first and very funny. It’s performed in English and unlike a traditional opera it has prose text in the middle to break up the singing. Which I have to admit is a good thing because it’s not very easy to identify what is going on in the songs and I needed the non-singing bits to act as a guide. I think it falls down in relying on the fact it is performed in English to get the message across whereas, I’m told, in traditional opera the acting and vocal performance conveys everything you need to know.

Having said that I really enjoyed myself and it’s definitely an experience worth having as my sources tell me that US opera isn’t anywhere near as heavily subsidised as British opera.

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