A Beginners Review Of My First Opera

When my Mum and Dad offered to write a short review of La Rondine I must admit I was a little nervous, after following my performances for the past 14 years asking for their opinion reminds me of the line from “Pirates of The Caribbean” – “Wake… the Kraken”  as you never quite know what they are going to say……

We were pleasantly surprised that there was such a lovely theatre nestled inside the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, it was beautifully laid out and very well organised, around 300 seats on three tiers, with a large stage area and an orchestra pit.  The doors opened at 7:05pm and everyone was in their seats by 7:15pm.

We’d guess there were about 40 musicians in the orchestra who were hidden from view bar the first couple of rows and the upper galleries.  Their friends and family must have really enjoyed watching them too, the music was stunning.

There was a wide age range in the audience, it seemed like a near to full house.   This was the fourth and final performance.  We had a free typed program which was a nice souvenir to take away.  A hush descended as the curtain rose on a salon/changing room setting, like a split scene with a clever use of perspective by the set designer.  In fact for a student production the sets in Acts I and II were very professional.

Act One – The Opening Scene ( Reproduced By Kind Permission Of The RCS / KK Dundas )

We’re not opera goers so we struggled at first with the whole production being sung in Italian until we realised there were subtitles high above us near the roof.  With hindsight we would have been better sat in the upper tiers.

Act One – The Story Develops ( Reproduced By Kind Permission Of The RCS / KK Dundas )

The singing, colours and opulent costumes on the stage, brought the show to life.  We knew a bit about the plot from the program and Charlotte’s blog post.  The scene change between Acts I and II were very quick and well done and we were transported to a night club setting, full of life and movement.

Act Two – Bullier’s ( Reproduced By Kind Permission Of The RCS / KK Dundas )

Charlotte had prepared us for her flirty ‘party girl’ character which her Dad felt she was rather too good at!  Our eyes followed Charlotte around the stage, dancing, flirting, playing cards, getting her bottom smacked by a sailor and waltzing the night away.  The principals developed the story beautifully and the director made good use of the chorus.  We’ve watched Charlotte on the stage regularly since she was about six and she always makes us so proud when she comes to life in this environment.

Act Two – The Leap ( Reproduced By Kind Permission Of The RCS / KK Dundas )

Our favourite bit had to be when Charlotte climbed up on a table and leapt off into the up stretched arms of two muscular guys, cycling her legs in the air, this was amongst so much cast activity and wild abandon it made you feel happy just to watch them obviously enjoying themselves so much as the two main characters fell in love.

Act Two – Romance Is In The Air ( Reproduced By Kind Permission Of The RCS / KK Dundas )

As everyone left the stage in groups of friends and couples you did get a sense that the opera was coming to an end with the two main characters leaving to begin their new life together as the curtain dropped.

After a break Act III commenced with a minimal set of a beach and a chaise long.  The act was skilfully carried out with just four main characters.  The story felt to us like it required another ten minutes to resolve itself with Ruggero perhaps following Magda back to Paris to plead with her to make a go of it with him which he would have done if he truly loved her.  But who are we to criticise Puccini whose operas are still being staged nearly 100 years after he wrote it.  As an audience member we went from a real happy high feeling to a rapid deterioration, which not being used to the tragedy of opera was strange.  Lisette the maid had her dreams of stardom crushed, and Magda the courtesan was reminded of her place and went back to her rich benefactor with her tail between her legs.  Bring back the party!

Seriously the singing and music was wonderful all without stage microphones that you usually see taped to people’s heads.  The staging was sumptuous and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.  Well done Charlotte for opening our eyes to a new form of entertainment, you make us very happy 😉

Love Mum & Dad xx

52 thoughts on “A Beginners Review Of My First Opera

  1. I was drawn into the story through your parents words and the pictures. What a wonderful review and congrats again on another achievement! PS I even managed to pick you out in the pictures above!

    1. I think I might have persuaded them both to take me to another opera in November for my 21st birthday 🙂 fingers crossed. The photographs did give a nice visual to the post I’m very grateful I was given permission to use them.

      Best wishes

  2. This was just terrific that your family not only showered you with love but their capture of what was going on, made me wish I had been there. So happy for you and celebrating your every success!! Brava!

    1. Hi Annette, my family are all very supportive and my parents a real comfort blanket, my brothers were both sad not be able to come to watch through work and study commitments. Thank you for your lovely message.

      Best wishes

  3. as father of two daughters, I had to laugh at the flirting story. – but flirting “just a bit” is a good thing for a young lady to know 🙂

  4. Very good review glad you both enjoyed it, sounds fantastic sure there will be lots more to see. Well done Charlotte you will always remember your first opera .xxx

    1. I glad you enjoyed it 🙂 they came to see a show at school once and when I asked if they liked it they both just said “no”, so like I said it was a gamble 🙂

      Best wishes

  5. That was just lovely, all of it, the story, your mum and dad’s narrative, and those pictures. The production must have been a triumph. You must feel so good that you have two fans who can write such a sensitive and compelling review. Their pride must be boundless. Congratulations, Charlotte, on another success.

  6. Excellent review – I almost feel like I was there! My husband is an opera buff and I’ve had to learn to love it or else …….. it is a bit perplexing when you can’t understand the plot! But the costumes!

    1. Ha Ha Jennifer, you know how my parents feel then, opera wasn’t even on their radar until I started pinging. They both agree the larger than life characters, costumes and sets suit my personality perfectly, when I was straight acting I was always told “a little less”…and when singing “a little quieter”… where on this stage I can be my stage Charlotte to my heart’s content.

      Best wishes

  7. Interesting interpretation/report covering most of the parts that professional reviewers often miss. The personal interest of the reviewers came to life beautifully in the words..’getting her bottom smacked by a sailor’… Splendid review, Charlotte they did you proud.

    1. Thanks Eric, they were a bit concerned at first writing it from just their personal point of view but like I said it’s my blog not the Daily Telegraph 😀

      Best wishes

  8. What a fantastic review from your parents, Charlotte! I enjoyed reading it and they must be so proud of you! Congratulations on your performance! 🙂

    1. Thank you Violet I’m glad you enjoyed reading. All three of us want to please them, they work so hard to help us to pursue our dreams. I was doing my yoga this morning and thought of you.

      Best wishes

      1. Working hard to help people pursue their dreams is so wonderful! 🙂 Awww, I hope you had a nice yoga session which has helped with your focus and will now help you to continue to pursue your dreams with even more energy! Have a beautiful week, Charlotte! xx

  9. Charlotte, you’ve a wonderful Mum and Dad! Their love for you shines through crystal clear. I enjoyed their review and perspective on this form of artistic entertainment. It sounds like a splendid time was had by all. I am so very happy for you. Congratulations.

    1. That’s lovely Phil, they are very practical, down to earth people and stop me getting too “drama queeny” but they were also full of praise for a job well done which is just brilliant.

      Best wishes

  10. Congratulations Charlotte, it looks fantastic I wish I could have been there but mum and dad have brought the pictures to life with their review, so I feel as though I practically was there. A big well done xxxx

    1. Thank you Diana, I smashed my iPhone screen yesterday, it fell out of my bag, and I’ve had to use my iPad for messaging! I can’t wait for it to be fixed/replaced. Glad you enjoyed the review they knew I was busy yesterday so I was really grateful they took the time to do it for me.

      Best wishes

      1. Oh no I hope they can fix it. I am forever dropping my phone that’s why I have one of those tradie (tradesman) cases, they don’t look as nice but they are pretty strong. Xxx

    1. Thanks Diane, that’s lovely. Facebook have changed the rules this year and people aren’t getting my posts any-more so I’m glad you saw it over there.

      Best wishes

    1. Hopefully Stephanie, if I work hard I’ll achieve my dream of performing at as many places around the world as possible. So hopefully you’ll be able to catch me perform one day.

      Best wishes

    1. Thank you, it was lovely for me to see how they feel about what I do and the effect it has on them. Just gives me another reason to work hard.

      Best wishes

  11. A really pro review! I do agree that Puccini didn’t have to make everyone wallow in misery at the end – but I suppose it is the sad songs which have the most impact!

  12. Interesting review! I love to hear experiences of opera from viewers who are not familiar with the genre. I can see that the ending might disappoint those who have come for the story and want a happy finale, or even those who like full-on tragedy with a few bodies on stage. For my money though, Rondine is unique, because the heroine makes her choice and sticks with it. For once the soprano is in charge of her own fate. It is the intelligent choice too as the alternatives would only have had tragic consequences.

    1. Yes that’s very interesting Hilary, I didn’t think about her being in control. It seems like such a whirlwind opera.

      Very true and very operatic alternative endings 🙂

      Best wishes

  13. I don’t know, Charlotte – what does one say to a star after an outstanding performance? All I can think of is – BRAVO!

  14. I really enjoyed reading your parents review and the pictures were wonderful. Congratulations! Sorry this is so late but I have been experiencing internet problems – groan!

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