STUDENT BLOGS: Theatre in London: Sites, Sounds, and Situations
Viva la Vie Boheme
by Carrie Harris
Opera is not nearly as angsty as RENT. I'm more a fan of the angst, and the plot of La Boheme fell a little short for me. But I am also a fan of the Royal Opera House here in London town.
My major thought during our backstage tour of the opera house was "Man, I wish I could work here...". We were some of the privileged few who got to travel through the theatre factory that is the Royal Opera House. We found that everything is planned six years ahead of time ... wouldn't our production board love that?!
Planning is key to the Royal Opera/Royal Ballet's AWESOME effective "running like clockwork" system. The 21st century technology that came with the Royal Opera's renovation in the late '90s was a fascinating site to see, and the amount of open space that was hidden away inside this venue was unexpected and absolutely phenomenal.
Nine shows can have full sets in production and rehearsal at one time and everything is automated and soundproofed for maximum efficiency. We got to see some of the workshops, which fascinated our design students and let those of us who have specific interests (such as my interest in costuming) geek out a little at the workspaces and materials at hand to those at the opera house. We also got a sneak peak at the dance studios that are home to the Royal Ballet Company and those of us with an interest in dance could see a beautiful prima ballerina rehearse a bit of a solo from the ballet, Sleeping Beauty.
This tour hit on all the highlights that a theatre student could want to see without us being able to be directly involved, and led us up to a fabulous performance of Puccini's La Boheme later that evening. The tradition of the opera was truly upheld to a stunning degree and all of us agreed that the singing was superb. As theatre practitioners rather than opera practitioners, we were all wanting a bit more creativity in drawing more out of the script as we generally strive to do with new concepts for material of our art. Also as theatre practitioners, I don't believe that any of us were swayed or converted from our love of straight plays and musicals and the attachment that we have with them as audience members. As a first true opera experience for many of us, this was truly the best way to start, and was definitely a rewarding experience after hearing the history of the wonderful
space and company.