DrinksThing outings are famous for being in top places combining fun networking with a great experience. I’ve been to Twitter HQ and the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy with them to give you an idea of what I mean. So when the chance to meet new folk and go to the opera came up, I jumped at the chance.
We met in a nearby pub for a chance to chat to fellow DrinksThing folk and find out what interesting people they are with great jobs in the arts, heritage and museum world. Then we swept across to the Royal Opera House, stopping briefly to enjoy its imposing facade.
Once in our seats in the Amphitheatre section, we settled in to enjoy a brilliant view of the stage, ceiling and orchestra for Lucia di Lammermoor.
Donizetti’s tragic opera was given extra punch by the innovative staging but I need to make a slight digression here for those who don’t know the story (spoiler alert) and here is how this production plays it. Loosely based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott, Lucia di Lammermoor is the story of a doomed love affair between Lucia and Edgardo who is the sworn enemy of her brother Enrico. The lovers meet in secret but are discovered by Enrico who is outraged. Edgardo has gone to war but not before the lovers have pledged to marry when he returns. We see Lucia experiencing morning sickness so it seems more than letters were exchanged. Enrico arranges a marriage for Lucia to Arturo and persuades her that Edgardo has been unfaithful . Enrico claims he will be ruined and killed if she does not marry and disregards her feelings completely. She marries Arturo just as Edgardo returns and, enraged, he demands his ring back. On her wedding night Lucia kills Arturo, has a miscarriage and descends to madness, imagining she is marrying Edgardo. Edgardo decides he will die in a duel with Enrico but then learns that Lucia is dying, realises what’s happened, and kills himself to join her in heaven. Phew!
The staging was brilliant in my view but has split opinions within the RoH going public. The opera is played out in a split screen format so we had 2 rooms, or a room and a graveyard, each taking up half of the stage with action happening simultaneously on both halves throughout This took some concentrating along with reading the very useful surtitles so no drifting off allowed For me this added a rich complexity to the storytelling and more visual entertainment but having looked at a thread about this, some found it distracting and unnecessary – go with it I say!
The star of the show was Lisette Oropesa playing Lucia, her singing was powerful and had amazing range, especially with those really high notes. This is considered one of opera’s most challenging roles for its technical demands and emotional intensity, particularly during the descent into madness She managed to sing at full emotional power even when laying on the bed and her acting was wonderful. She brought life to every scene she was in and even when she was in the side of the split screen where the singing was not happening, I still wanted to follow what she was doing.
So, thanks to DrinksThing for a memorable evening: drinks, great networking and world class opera in this iconic venue!
[Edit to Add: Huge shout out to Royal Opera House for hosting us and making opera fun!]