I saw Partenope performed by English National Opera at The London Coliseum. I must admit I don’t remember too much of the plot, it involved various love interests and a woman dressed as a man or vice versa. This review will be based more on the experience of seeing an opera.
Looking around the Coliseum the auditorium was very pleasing; it made you feel very royal and important. There was a digital screen above the stage that showed the words that the singers were singing. Of course, this is a great visual aid to anyone who struggles to hear, however, I did find it useful myself to follow the plot more accurately, unfortunately I did not discover this until towards the end of act one.
The set was very pleasing, much more elaborate than I was expecting for an opera. I do not know why but my first impression of opera was that they would just stand there and sing. I felt quite disappointed in myself for being in disbelief at the actual movement of the actors. All set was a very strong colour white and there was a long staircase that connected the stage to a walkway above the main playing area. I enjoyed the movement of the singers on the staircase and there was a particular character that fell consistently which became funnier than I expected it to be. I think this character was one of the main contacts with real life as far as I was concerned.
The main thing I have learnt from seeing this production is the impact the people you are with can have on your take on the piece. I attended the show with my 17-year-old brother and he is one of the last people you would send to see an opera, but he was open-minded so came with me. Needless to say he did not enjoy it. There were three acts to the opera and I told my brother that we could leave whenever he wanted to (which is something I normally have to have a strong stomach for as I always feel incredible guilty leaving early) and he decided to leave as soon as the first act was over. I did not focus on the plot as much as I normally would because I would get these ‘I don’t know what is going on’ glances and find it hilarious. I became more focussed on my brother watching on opera than myself watching an opera.
Being mesmerised by my brother watching the piece over anything stopped me from feeling anything towards it and this is a huge issue for me. I am very passionate about the feelings of performing and how you feel when you watch a piece of theatre so being in a position where I was not feeling anything made me feel very detached and created a feeling of dislike towards Partenope (the show, not the character) and if I am being honest, opera in general. I am, however, very conscious of the fact that had I been there alone I would have understood and enjoyed more and will be very happy to see another opera again. The singers themselves were faultless.
Thank you for reading,
Sophie’s Bubble =D