After my first disastrous experience at the Royal Opera house (read it here) I was eager to experience the real thing in main theatre and at the end of last month I was fortunate enough to do just that when I went to see Carmen. My 2 experience could not be more different Carmen was utterly magical!
The only regret that I have is that I did not eat at the Opera House prior to attending the performance and would no doubt have been much better than the Italian I had near the theatre.
The cloak room facilities were great and free. I am glad that I put my coat in however after the show the scrabble for getting your coat back is a bit like a scrum at Twickenham but that truly is the only complaint that I have about the evening.
I arrived an hour prior to performance and moved on the bar area under the iconic opera house windows I ordered a red wine and was pleasantly surprised to have change of £6 and it was very drinkable unlike the over priced prosecco I ordered last time.
Dressed in a frock and sat in the bar seeing the last of the autumnal sun set through the iconic windows while people watching was a wonderful way to wait for the call to say the auditorium was open.
I brought a glossy programme and postcard from the small pop up booth. The programme is beautiful but next time I will just pick up the cast list as that was primarily what I brought the programme.
My seat was in the amphitheatre which was an escalator ride up to an second bar (very clean and modern looking) then the right you move round and enter the auditorium through clearly marked doors. I should just say my ticket was a return and I paid £68. the people either side of my paid nearly double for their tickets. However I will say it here and now my ticket was worth every penny of the cost and if I had of paid more I would not have minded as the performance was AMAZING!
I was sat right in the middle and had an excellent view however if you are scared of heights I do not recommend booking seats in the Amphitheatre level. The seats were very comfortable.
My first fear was that I would not understand a word of the opera as it is in French. Despite the fact I have had a years worth of French language refresher courses I am only slightly better at understanding and reading in the language of Love and sadly no better at speaking (its a work in progress) so I am sure you can understand my concern. the first thing I realised 10 minutes in is that opera, just like the french pop music I listen too, is easy to understand the feel and mood of the music and the acting of the singers means you do not need to understand what is sung word for word. secondly the ROH also have a small screen that has the words in English if you want to know. I found it useful especially during the dialogue but the actual songs I was happy to listen to them and drink in the whole experience.
The stage settings of the production was clean simple and was moved to create difference settings. The level of professionalism and the stream lining of settings and props reminded me of the Globe productions I have seen.
The orchestra was amazing. The quality of the singers were what you would expect from the Royal Opera house the acting was also fabulous.
A nice surprise was the production used a real donkey and horse both animals were timid and well behaved especially when there is such loud music from the musical instruments and the powerful singers.
The atmosphere in the theatre during the performance was electric. The power, clarity and feel (yes the feel) of the songs performed. Something that can not be replicated by listening to a CD recording regardless how HD the recording is.
I was surprised at how many of the songs i knew from Carmen including Habanera and les Toreadors
I will defiantly be back and I highly recommend everyone go and see 1 thing at the opera house live. I also want to try the live Cinema productions the ROH does frequently to see if that is as effective as seeing it live.