Saturday, 8 March 2014

Turandot at the Royal Opera House ... a wonderful birthday gift.

Following our meal at Clos Maggiore my husband and I headed across Covent Garden to the Royal Opera House. The night was crisp and cold and small groups of tourists sat together in pavement cafes. We strolled hand in hand over the cobbled pavements and I don't think the smile left my lips. Part of me wanted my birthday to go on and on forever and I was determined to enjoy every last second.

My husband had booked tickets for the opera months ago as a surprise and we were both excited. The Royal Opera House is an incredible building, dripping in history and walking in there sends a frisson of excitement through my body every time. Its a place that seems bathed in the magic of the operas and ballets that have been performed there since 1732 originally and 1946 in the current building.

We walked in and ordered two glasses of champagne - like you do when you're 50.

We drank a toast and gazed around at the bustling throngs of theatre goers in this gorgeous glass building. There is a sense of being somewhere very special here and I loved watching the women go by in their gorgeous dresses, wafting perfume and glamour! 
And then it was time to go in ... I couldn't believe the seats my husband had booked - Circle Stall with a magnificent view of the stage.

Before my birthday I have to admit that I had no idea of the story of Turandot, but I looked it up and its a love story!! If you follow this link you can have a little taste of Puccini's music and of the Royal Opera House's production - behind the scenes, the story of Turandot.

I sat transfixed by the performance. I am not an opera buff - far from it, but I was so moved by Turandot. It is incredible how music can touch your soul. The artists on stage had me mesmerised and as I listened the tears streamed down my face. Somehow their voices soared to the rafters of the Opera House and on their way they touched my soul.

My very favourite scene was the death of Liu, the slave girl, played by Ailyn Perez. In the story she is tortured by Princess Turandot's soldiers to reveal the name of Prince Calaf, with whom Liu is in love. She refuses to give in and would rather die than betray her love. In this clip you can see Katia Ricciarelli singing the role of Liu. Its a longish clip and I preferred Ailyn Perez, but its still beautiful.

Irene Theorin played Turandot and her voice moved me too. I just don't know how a human body can produce a sound of such stunning power and beauty.

Alfred Kim played Prince Calaf and at the end of the second Act he sings Nessun Dorma - the music of which is repeated in the Finale. If you can imagine the whole ensemble singing, the orchestra playing ... it was wonderful.

I have realised at the ripe old age of 50 that you don't have to be clever or dead cultured to enjoy opera... the reason it has been successful and popular for so many years is that the music is stunning, it touches your heart and the stories are easy to understand. I loved my birthday treat and its memory will stay with me forever.

I am so lucky that my husband had such a brilliant idea ... he's a keeper!!!


joy said...

It has been lovely to read the stories of your 50th birthday celebrations, I'm so pleased you had such a wonderful time, and made so many memories.
Joy x x x

Urban Cynic said...

How lovely. I've been to Covent Garden Opera House a few times so I know how exciting it is. You had great seats too - you can get tickets for around £5 but they're way up in the Gods (just in case you want to go again with friends but think you can't afford it)

I love birthdays personally; I know some people don't celebrate them but I like to milk every second of mine! It sounds like you had a fantastic day and night and I couldn't be happier for you. x

Sunny London said...

How exciting! I have attending an opera at the Royal Opera House on my list of must-do activities in London. But, I agree, it would be for a special occasion, as the tickets are very expensive. Thank you for sharing your experience and making me even more excited about going!

sarah at secret housewife said...

Hi Joy! I'm glad you've enjoyed reading about my week!! I had a fab time!

Hi Urban Cynic. Yes - there are really cheap tickets if you get in early enough.And I love birthdays! Definitely up for milking it as long as possible!!

Hello Sunny! It is definitely a very special experience which I recommend. If you go on their mailing list you can see what's coming up and when tickets are available and as Urban Cynic says you can get some really reasonable tickets. x

Jo said...

Oh wow, how wonderful :-) And also a very belated Happy Birthday to you. I am sorry, I'd read the first part of your birthday post a few days ago and had meant to comment and wish you Happy Birthday then but ran out of time.
I'm so glad you had such a special birthday :-)
Very best (rather late) birthday wishes to you and much love, Jo xx