Sunday, February 25, 2007


A Night at the Opera

My job is varied. Customer service, logistics, database maintenance, photography, data entry, creative writing... all or none of these might happen on a typical day.
Last Friday I found myself down at the Coliseum for an event we were holding.

Free ticket right at the back and a special badge to stop me having to argue with Security.

I had to stand in the foyer looking pretty with a sign on a table next to me from when the house opened to about 10 minutes after curtain up. I spent most of this time productively directing people to the toilets and cloakroom [I didn't actually know where either of these were, but I took a guess, pointed left or right and hoped for the best. No-one complained.]
This accomplished I clutched my ticket with its magic £0.00 price, and went up the stairs to my seat. And up. And up. And up, right to the balcony. My ticket was actually on the end of the very back row. To be any further from the stage you would have to step out of the auditorium and hang off the front of the Coliseum.
Now, I'm not what you might call an opera 'fan' In fact I'd never been to the opera before last Friday. However, from my vantage point of being to see most of the forestage stage right, some of the midstage, and absolutely nothing of downstage left, I would like to share, with you, my impressions of this highly regarded company's critically acclaimed production in this fine historical venue.

I'd missed the first bit, so had no idea who anyone was. Someone was someone else's lover, and this had upset someone else because the object of somebody's affections was to be made emperor for saving the emperor's life. So a plan was hatched to stop him becoming emperor, by someone tricking someone else into rejecting their lover and accusing the emperor-to-be of being a traitor. Or something. [written entirely without reference to this]

Now I quite like theatre. I've spent a lot of time messing about in and around theatres and occasionally go to see a play. Opera however I'm not so sure about. If you're going to say something, say it clearly. The singing may be very nice, but if you need the words in letters 6 inches high above the stage, then you're clearly doing something wrong. Secondly, once you've said something, there's very little need to repeat it and definitely not six times. Even if you do sing it higher with each repetition.

The staging of this particular production was quite interesting. There were some wall things, and a big set of yellow steps with a throne at the top which moved around by themselves. The wardrobe styling was, I think, somewhere in the mid 20th century. Military uniforms were a bit WW1/2, and big shades were in fashion, whilst mobile phones were being sung into left right and centre. (I'm assuming left, but couldn't actually see that part of the stage)

My favourite part was probably when the surtitles above the stage in this internationally famed and venerable temple to the fine art of opera relayed the following line from the libretto to the assembled great and good who had come to worship at this altar of culture:

Fuck Fuckety Fuck Fuck Fuck

I never said I was sophisticated.
As well as this, there was the Jake Shears-esque stylist who was hamming it up as if his life depended on it, and a couple of soldiers doing a music hall-style dance number with poker faces whilst the hero proclaimed his future greatness. Oh and the emperor being spurned ny his lover and demanding to know when he could come. Went over the heads of most of the audience I think, but I tittered.

How did it end? No idea, I spent the second half packing little cakes into bags. Not in my original role description, but quite typical of my job.

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