Behind the Scenes at Carmen with Opera North

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I’m on a richly entertaining cultural roll at the moment as regular readers will have noted. This has taken its toll on the domestic front however. The house has descended into a state of squalor better ignored if I want you to keep reading, and the dog has had organic lamb chops for dinner because I forgot to buy dogfood. It could have been worse. I might have remembered the dogfood instead of the lamb chops. Still, it has all been worth it.

The latest adventure was an extraordinary opportunity last night to go backstage at Opera North thanks to an event laid on by The Culture Vulture. There have been times in my life when I could have described myself as an ON groupie (13 performances of Magic Flute in 2002 surely qualifies? And yes, there was a good reason; my son was playing one of the three boys) but it had been a while since I last saw a production. This particular Culture Vulture event was an opportunity for local bloggers and social media enthusiasts not necessarily so familiar with opera to have a chance to find out more behind the scenes and speak with performers, and I was thrilled to be able to see it all from such a new perspective.

I have to admit that I find workshops and studios of any sort quite fascinating. Going to opera for me is as much a visual and aesthetic treat as a musical encounter, and I don’t think I have ever been disappointed by an Opera North stage set. The abstract elegance and chiaroscuro perfection of contemporary stage scenery allows nothing of what lies behind to be revealed and so the shock of the reality was extraordinary. Peter, a technical manager explained the wonders of backstage scenery mechanisms as we all craned our necks and gazed up and around in awe. Two soloists, Claire Wild (Frasquita) and Keel Watson (Zuniga), were happy and enthusiastic to give us a short account of life on the international opera circuit and answer our questions. Coincidentally, they were the only two cast members who were also performing 8 years ago in the production my son was in!

Needless to say, I enjoyed the production. Carmen is always an entertaining opera, and was in safe hands here. Leeds is fortunate to have Opera North; and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to see it all a bit more closely, thanks to The Culture Vulture.

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