At the grand old age of 23, I had never been to the opera before. I’m historically not a fan of anything that’s too long, or overly traditional, and had always assumed that I would struggle to find anything relatable at the opera. However, last week I went to see La finta giardiniera at the world famous Glyndebourne Opera Theatre, and how wrong I was: The tour trailer is inspired by a Jay Z video, the performance made me laugh out loud, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how great it would have been for a night out with my girlfriends.
If you don’t know Glyndebourne, it began life as a theatre that was built in the grounds of a very beautiful country estate in the Sussex Downs, by a guy who fell in love with an opera singer and built her a theatre in his garden. Obviously. Glyndebourne continues his dream of taking opera to the masses with the Summer Festival (which includes a 90 minute supper interval where audiences picnic in the grounds), then a nationwide tour.
La finta is essentially a love web, she loves him, but he loves her, but he stabbed her and now she’s lying about who she is – it’s a bit like EastEnders, but with a live orchestra and bucket-loads of class. And it’s FUNNY! The characters fall in love with all the wrong people and drive themselves mad with their desperate, all-consuming infatuations and you can’t help but hoot at the increasing ridiculousness of it all!
A common fear with opera, I think, is that it’s sung in a different language (in this case Italian). Fear not, surtitles (sur because they’re at the top, as opposed to sub which are at the bottom!) basically give you the gist of the action but in English.
Attention to detail is Glyndebourne’s unique selling point and even from the Circle you can see that every centimetre of the set, and every inch of costume has been meticulous constructed to give the production the added depth that made it so rich. Every miniscule element is its own work of art.
It’s easy to discount the classical art forms as ‘not for me’, especially as a young person who is more partial to experimental theatre, but art is about pushing the boundaries of our own expectations and going to Glyndebourne certainly did that for me! I left Glyndebourne feeling privileged to have seen something so beautiful and firmly converted to an opera lover.
Glyndebourne next visits Theatre Royal Plymouth from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th November. Under 16’s, Students and Young Company members receive a half price concession on Tuesday to Friday performances. Alternatively, TRP Standby tickets will be available on Friday 28th November (although these are subject to availability and not guaranteed!).
La finta Giardiniera – Tuesday 25 & Thursday 27 November
La traviata – Wednesday 26 & Saturday 29 November
The Turn of the Screw – Friday 28 November
- Chloe Solman, Marketing Officer at the Theatre Royal Plymouth