Opera has been a bucket list thing for a while now for me but for whatever reason it's taken me what seems like forever to actually get round to going.
I know nothing about it. Opera to me is something posh people get dressed up to go to and is basically women in enormous dresses singing while standing still. That was my knowledge and understanding. That and the fact that the music is incredibly dramatic and used in a lot of movies where people are getting killed.
I honestly had no idea what to expect.
Carmen is one of the more well known Operas. Apparently one that was slated when it first opened.
Carmen is a very strong gypsy woman who thinks, or rather knows. that every man she meets is in love with her. None of whom she's particularly interested in. Until she meets soldier Jose.
It's not a traditional production of Carmen, it's set in the 70's and it reminded a bit of watching Baz Lurhmans Romeo and Juliet - all the old dialogue but with more up to date visuals. Making it a much more interesting watch for the younger people in the audience.
I won't lie, I did struggle a little to understand what was going on. There are subtitles that come up that give you the general idea of the story so I was following it but there are parts when they're singing - in French - that I didn't understand.
However that didn't hinder my enjoyment of it.
The stage sets for this were brilliant.
Having not been to an Opera before it was odd seeing the curtain come down after each act while the set was changed around. I'd never experienced that before, it's like having 4 5 minutes intervals throughout the show.
The cast in this was HUGE! I've never seen so many people on stage all at once. There is so much going on because of this that you could watch this show again and again and still see something new.
The performers in this were all absolutely incredible, backed by a full orchestra I was stunned that no-one has microphones in an Opera. Their voices are so well trained to project that even with that orchestra you could hear everything perfectly. Possibly why they have so many in the company for the more dramatic of the pieces.
Having not really much knowledge of the opera and not really expecting to know anything of what they were singing I was surprised that I knew 3 pieces in this! Carmen has actually been used a lot in pop culture including Trainspotting and a very famous Muppet Sketch with Beaker. It's surprising that you don't realise sometimes where these iconic classical pieces have come from.
I definitely have more of an appreciation for Opera now. Its something I will watch again, I'd like to see some different ones.
I really enjoyed it, despite not entirely following it. Its a very dramatic show. Carmen is quite sexual which I wasn't really expecting. Far from the 'stuffyness' I imagine when I think opera!! I have to say the production and the company in this were fantastic, I was drawn in to the performances from the start.
I was expecting to get emotional, everyone tells me thats what Opera is all about. All the tragic love stories that they are famous for. I didn't feel this is the most tragic though.
I would absolutely recommend going to watch an opera particularly one by WNO. They're bringing it into modern day and producing more current themed shows based on the classics. It makes it a lot more 'accessible' for people like me who have NO idea what's going on. It makes it a lot easier to follow and a lot more relatable.
Welsh National Opera are at Mayflower all week and back again in the Spring, tickets available https://www.mayflower.org.uk/