On March the 13th 2016 at 7:30pm I attended my first opera, a production of Bizet’s Carmen, at the Caird hall with my good friend and flatmate Cathy. It was a long anticipated event; first a month away; then a week, and finally the day arrived. Life had changed a lot in the time from booking the tickets and not all were good changes but the opera gave me that something on the horizon to look forward to.
I felt as I was getting changed into my black suit and bow tie a sense of nervousness and excitement, nervous about whether it would live up to the expectation and excitement towards seeing my first opera, something that has always been on my bucket list. As we prepared to leave we stood for a picture in our corridor, we would be the best dressed pair there and indeed we were. I felt a bit peckish on my way to the opera, and so as to suitably embarrass my companion, who stood in high heels and a blue floor length dress, I thought the best place to go was McDonalds. After that we went to find our seats, as we passed down the aisle to our aisle seats second row from the front we were greeted by some lovely compliments exchanged between couples about our now seeming slightly exuberant attire.
We took our seats and waited for the opera to begin, at first there was just the drone of musicians warming up their instruments and then out came the conductor. He was exactly as you would picture a proper conductor, wild long hair with a small bald patch on top and in a tailcoat. He awoke the orchestra with his actions using such gusto in his conducting that it was hard not to imagine a small child imitating conducting. The moment the orchestra began to play I felt a warmth and excitement run throughout my body in a feeling that is hard to describe as anything other than raw joy. The most massive grin appeared on my face as I could feel the tightness in my cheeks, I turned to Cathy who was clearly feeling the same thing. I have to say I’ve never felt anything quite like it.
As the opera began I watched in utter amazement as I became enveloped in the production within which every element was refined to the most miniscule detail. Wherever you lay your eye on stage you were greeted by a new sight, from the peasants in the backgrounds own wordless stories with flirting, romance, family, and matriarchy; to the main characters tragic and breath-taking performances.
The set for the opera was astounding; a sandstone building façade with columns, archways, steps, busts, sculptures and alcoves. It truly was a work of art in of itself. The costumes perfectly portrayed the characters from Carmen’s statement red dress to the two different dresses worn by the same soprano that completely altered her character to be the two separate characters in the opera. I cannot state to what degree the detail of this performance amazed me, I feel as though if I watched the opera another 10 times I would still find new, interesting, and exciting details.
The actual singing itself was of the highest calibre on all fronts. I was particularly impressed by the performance of “Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante”.
With two intervals the show lasted until 10:30 and I have to say it was possibly the best 3 hours I have ever spent. To give this show a rating would be doing it a huge injustice. Although watching an opera sang in French, set in Spain and performed in Scotland with an Irish lead may not be for everyone it was a truly amazing experience that I feel everyone should try at some point in their lives.