Enjoying opera: the home team advantage

Enjoying opera: the home team advantage

Jenna Simeonov

When you work on an opera, by opening night, you know it like the back of your hand. It can feel a little insane to know every corner of a show, to have a bar and a half worth of recit running around in your head, to be able to rattle off pages of a score at the slightest provocation. We opened The Rape of Lucretia here at The Banff Centre this weekend, and though it’s not exactly a toe-tapper, Britten’s chamber opera has nestled deeply into the brains of the creative team.

That’s part of why opening night can be such a moving experience for those involved in creating the show. Opera is one of those things where you get out of it what you put in. The singers, coaches, conductor, director, and stage manager all have intimate familiarity with each moment of an opera, and they’ve had the luxury of exploring what those moments mean in rehearsal.

For the audience, the creative team can only wish listeners the richest experience when they go to see their work. Great operas have seemingly infinite moments of dramatic significance, of a musical change that speaks volumes of the story; will the average audience notice those details, and feel moved by them? Because, if every listener feels what a Head Coach feels during the first performance, they would be forever addicted to opera.

Perhaps it’s another reason to keep a firm place for the arts in education from an early age. Perhaps it’s another reason for Netflix to get on the opera train, so we can all have the chance to be moved by opera’s masterpieces.

But really, it’s simply another reason that artists are lucky folk. Those who are involved in putting up a show reap these extra rewards on opening night; the show is dear to them, and the show feels like a magical, perfect thing that they can’t wait to show others.

Today, we close Lucretia. There’s a distinct, paradoxical feeling among the cast and creative team: they’re not quite done figuring out Britten’s music or these characters, yet they cannot wait to tell this moving story to a sea of faces.

Have a fab final show, team.



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