After weeks of anticipation and frock buying and excitement Saturday evening finally arrived. What was I so excited about you may well ask. Well I had tickets for what I thought was the opera at the royal Opera house in Covent Garden. I have been lucky to see and hear the opera in Verona in the ro0man amphitheatre something all historians should do, siting in the Amphitheatre like a roman is exhilarating – but I digress.
I felt encouraged to book something after the resent BBC4 documentary series with Antonio (call me Tony) Pappano on the opera and a recent liaison with a handsome lawyer who loved Opera. So with a couple of temp jobs and cash in my hand I booked Orpheus online. Note to self – do your homework before you book.
Firstly this was not an opera this was more Am Dram contemporary arty farty meets ello ello and Gilbert and Sullivan. The production was in the Lindbury Studio Theatre in the opera house – a nice space intimate the seating was comfortable but there was a snag I will come back to later.
The stage and programme both eluded to deco Paris as the setting of this interpretation of the Greek Tragedy Orpheus. Now if you know me well or are a regular here you will know I love Paris so the fact that this was not what I thought it was might have actually been a bonus – alas it was indeed a tragedy but not in a good way.
Let me start with the positives before we go on to the negatives. Firstly the only reason I did not leave at interval was the young lead actress Yvette Pepin. Of all the cast she was the one who showed the biggest talent all around but her impersonation of Edith Piaf was first class. Make costume, act were spot on. It is clear that Pepin had studied her subject well.
The problem I mainly had was that the production was trying too hard to be too much it was trying to be Parisian night with Edith Piaf, it was trying to be Orpheus done in silent film in the French style (again a favourite genre for me if it has been good I would have enjoyed it) because it was trying to be to many things nothing was right for me it did not flow and the quality of the acts were local Am dram not something I would come and see in London’s prestigious Opera House.
It was art fund production from a theatre company based in Battersea the production had a budget feel to it. If it had been just been Ms Pepin doing Piaf I would have happily paid more than I did to see it unfortunately the rest just was not a patch on her. Thankfully I only paid £18 but those who paid more – I hope that they enjoyed it more than I did.
The 15 minutes of music post interval was very good, however now we come to the issue with the seating. A chap 4 seats up was jigging around in his seat clearly enjoying the show, however mine and the 2 people between me and him were being shook around like a martini for James bond. My seat was A1 I was very close to the stage and the drums but the angle was fine (I am only 5”2 and I could see fine) you don’t get much space for your legs so if you are leggy avoid front row. Also when the male lead was paying his guitar the silver plate on it kept catching the light and it was shining into me eye like an eye examination.
Beware the overpriced Prosecco tastes cheap (£9 a glass) and if you pre-order for the interval your glass is left out and any tom dick or harry could take it or drop something into it – I won’t be doing this again for Carmen in a few weeks!
This production will be touring the Bristol Old Vic, The Nuffield Southampton, Liverpool Everyman and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. If you looking for west end quality you will only find it with the leading lady but if you don’t mind Am Dram this might be worth a night out.
*Pictures by Laura Brennan