Opera. You either love it or hate it – or do you? Think opera is bellowing bigwigs performing for a know-it-all audience? Then it’s time to think again. Opera North is here to change that. Having experienced three very different operas over two seasons at The Lowry, Manchester, I’m left wondering why more younger people aren’t experiencing the opera. I’m here to convince you to give opera a try with my reasons to love opera.
Reasons to Love Opera
Wonder at the ability of the human voice
Operatic singing was developed in a time without microphones, unique techniques had to be developed to cut across the orchestra to be heard in grand halls. Without microphones, it’s a chance to truly marvel at the power of the human voice. Of course, you can catch an aria on YouTube, or seek out opera on Spotify, but nothing compares to listening to live opera singing within a darkened theatre amongst an audience so rapt with attention you can hear a pin drop.
An opportunity to be glam
Opera North stress there is no dress code for a night at the opera, saying if you want to don your Sunday best and make a special occasion of it, that’s fine, but jeans are just as acceptable. However, on the nights I’ve attended, most people visiting the opera in Manchester have dressed smartly. I like to wear dresses to the theatre, but if you’re more at home wearing jeans – then you can.
It costs less than you’d think – especially if you’re under 30!
An evening at the opera is much cheaper than most people think with tickets starting from just £20, depending on where you choose to sit in the auditorium. If you’re under 30, you can benefit from signing up to Opera North’s free Under 30s scheme and get tickets for just £10.
It’s visually spectacular
Opera is one of the most visually stunning spectacles in all theatre. As well as some sumptuous sets and costumes, you often get a LOT of people on stage at any one time (principals, chorus and sometimes dancers as well). This makes for an impressive sight – and sound! The ‘Te deum’, which ends act one of Tosca, is an great example of the power of ensemble singing, leaving you with goosebumps to take you into the interval.
You won’t be sat there for hours
Most operas are only a couple of hours long which is about the length of an average film, and there’s usually at least one interval. Tosca was 2 hours 40 minutes, including two 20-minute intervals, and The Merry Widow is only 2 hours 20 minutes, including one interval. Meaning if it’s not for you, you can creep out at the interval – but I bet you stay for the remaining acts.
You don’t need to be an opera buff
No one will ask you if you’ve visited the opera before, no one will ask you what you know. Opera is definitely not just for those who know loads about it. More than anything, it’s an emotional experience – watching Floria Tosca’s aria ‘Vissi d’arte’ (‘I lived for art’), I choked back the tears – bitter words with a soaring melody. I guarantee you’re likely to feel a greater connection at the opera than any other performance you’ve seen before.
It’s easy to understand what’s happening
Most operas are sang in English, but regardless of what language they’re sang in – there are subtitles you can easily follow. You’re able to read the subtitles whilst watching the action on stage to truly understand the events of the opera.
There’s something to suit everyone
On the second night of Opera North’s season at The Lowry, I took my mum because she had never experienced the opera before. Say ‘opera’ and everyone has an idea of what they think it will be like, but actually there’s a wide range of different styles. What’s more, the music of one composer sounds utterly different to that of another so, even you don’t like Mozart, it’s worth giving Puccini a go. Take this season at The Lowry. On the one hand, there’s the dramatically-compelling Tosca with its potent mix of lust, love, religion and politics, and on the other, there’s the light-hearted operetta The Merry Widow with its blend of singing and dancing – perfect for some feel-good fun.
And finally, it makes me feel more nostalgic than the John Lewis ad
On the street where I grew up, there lived a piano teacher. My neighbouring friends had lessons, so I had lessons too. Aged 5, I was gifted my first piano. I practised, performed and took exams until I was 16 and in that time, it’s fair to say I listened to a lot of classical musical and discovered a lot about composers. On my first visit to the opera, I was treated to Puccini’s Madama Butterfly which features The Humming Chorus – a piece of music which I’ve always loved. Sitting there in the dark theatre, it instantly took me back to my childhood.