Last night I went to watch Carmen at the Royal Opera House. It was the first event that I've attended there and by no means am I even remotely experienced in the world of Opera to give a critique of the show, but I'll let you all know my thoughts of it, my first ever opera to attend, well because it's what I want to write about today.
I arrived with Mrs Sythe at 7pm, having been forewarned by people experienced from previous events there to get there an hour early. There was a security scanner at the door and no one was allowed to bring in cigarette lighters, so smokers among you, beware.
There were programs on sale for RO 3, which are actually very nice, and there were RO 5 coffee, sandwich and cake combo's to purchase, as well as juice, water or coffee at RO 1 a pop. It seemed weird to be drinking coffee in such a nice location out of a paper cup.
No food or drink is allowed into the auditorium, obviously! On the back of each seat in front of you is a small dim-lit tv screen with subtitles available in a variety of languages so you can understand what they're singing about, a definitely much appreciated piece of technology seeing as the entire thing was sung in 135 year old French.
The set's were quite simply amazing, it turns out they were built in Italy and shipped over, and I understand it is the intention of this production to go on tour - one would hope they do because the set's really were quite amazing, and it'd be such a waste for only a 3 day run!
There were 4 acts, each with a 25 minute intermission, which is why the show ended up lasting 4 hours. I noticed that after Act 3 a quite noticeable number of people had left, presumably to go home as it was by that time 11pm. Perhaps not a great choice for those people with young children. The orchestra were conducted by this French guy who, for me, entertained me the most - but probably for a bad reason. This guy was really into his conducting, and his mannerisms had me smiling in no time. At points he'd get excited and start jumping up and down while conducting - presumably this is the done thing, I just thought it was funny - but then again Opera is not my first choice for live entertainment and so I'll respect the fact that the guy did seem to know what he was doing and was very well applauded, so he must have been good.
The attendants were very well drilled - they closed the doors and that was it - no one in or out till the next intermission - something I know other people had previously complained about - people entering or leaving in the middle of a performance. So they have learned and adapted. The same thing with getting out in your car after the performance - there were guards on hand directing traffic, it took me all of 2 minutes to get out and onto the highway home.
I happened to bump into a friend of mine that had a press kit, and learned that tickets for the next season of the ROH will be announced later this month and due to go on sale in early January - so for those of you keen to snap up some tickets for the next season, stay tuned for more announcements in the press in the coming weeks.