Tuesday, 19 April 2016

# 17 - Opera Australia (Turandot)

I've been to opera three times in my life, and I just don't get it.  I suppose it's just an old fashioned musical, but I don't really get musicals either.  I just don't find music is an appealing medium to tell a story that lasts longer than a few minutes.  As I've said a few times in these reviews, each to their own.

However, Opera Australia does put on some operas in some pretty spectacular locations.  They do an open air season, where they put on an opera performance on a pop up platform near Mrs Macquarie's Chair.  We have watched the open air cinema from this location, and I have no doubt it would be a spectacular location to watch some opera, but we couldn't resist the option to fulfil our Opera Australia obligation via an opera in the Opera House.

A nice view of the three separate buildings that make up the Opera House
The show that we went for was Turandot, by Puccini.  I won't provide a detailed review of the show itself, but all opera sounds the same to me anyway.  Lots of men shouting in languages I don't understand, and women shrieking in what is barely even a language.  And the story lines are absurd.  We went to see Rigoletto once, and didn't buy a programme.  We took a guess at what was happening, but when we Googled it after we got home, we weren't even close to the actual story.

Having said all that, I do quite like certain sections of the opera.  Specifically, the bits where they actually sing a song, with a proper tune.  In the case of Turandot, that means Nessun Dorma.  As an uncultured football fan, the anthem to the 1990 World Cup in Italy is one of the few operatic numbers that I actually know.  And it is a pretty impressive song to hear live.

The interval drinks - my favourite part of the opera
In terms of the venue, there are not many more spectacular buildings to host an event.  The Opera House is sensational from any angle, and attending the opera there allows you to see it from a few of the less traditional angles.  Once inside, it is... surprisingly unexciting.  Don't get me wrong, it's perfectly nice, but compared to the outside, it is just a bit underwhelming.  The lobbies are big and spacious, with everything you would expect.

There was plenty of room for everyone milling around, and there were no issues with making your way to your seat.  Again, inside the auditorium itself is a bit underwhelming.  Looks like it could do with a refurbishment, which I think it is actually going to have in the next couple of years.  You can't take photos inside, which a particularly snooty attendant swooped in to tell me the second I pulled my camera out of my pocket.  I apologised and immediately returned it to my pocket, only for her to spend another two minutes telling me in every possible way that cameras were not allowed.  I think she could sense my lack of culture and felt it was important to emphasise that I would be ejected from the auditorium if I used the camera.  She was a fun lady.

That light on the front seems excessively bright
Anyway, the show itself was probably very good, but aside from Nessun Dorma, the highlight for me was the interval.  This was because we could take a drink out to the terrace on the side of the Opera House, which is a lovely place to spend a nice evening.  I was a bit disappointed when they rang the bell to indicate that the second act was starting.

Anyway, despite my lack of appreciation for the finer points of opera, I would still recommend Opera Australia.  Like standing on top of the Harbour Bridge on the Bridge Climb, there is just something nice about watching an opera inside the Opera House.  Meanwhile, the open air opera is a great idea.  I imagine the accoustics are not the best, but there can't be many better places to watch anything, even opera.

Do you actually know something about opera?  Can you confirm whether Opera Australia is actually any good?  Please leave any comments or questions below.

No comments:

Post a Comment