My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing the Opera “Carmen” at the Royal Opera House Muscat this past Wednesday (Dec. 21st). What made it all the more exciting was that this was our first opera! We weren’t sure what to expect really except that it was going to be LONG. 4 HOURS LONG! Our 2 previous trips to the Opera House were the ballets Giselle and Don Quixote which were not quite as long at around 3 hours I think when you include the intermissions.
Here are some of the details about this particular opera that was commissioned by the Opera House. No pics or video are allowed during the opera itself, but I was permitted to take this pic of the stage before it started.
This was basically just an outer covering that after a few minutes at the beginning of each of the 4 Acts would be rolled back to reveal such beautiful set design that the audiece was moved to applause each time! Actually the last tragic scene was performed in front of this scene as well.
Each seat has one of these screens in front of them which allow the audience member to be able to see the lyrics in the original French language or a number of other languages simultaneously as they were being sung! What was really cool was that the woman to my right had French on her screen right next to mine, so I was able to see English and French translations at the same time. It was a great review to a lot of French I learned during my 5 years at College Militaire Royale de Saint Jean that has become mostly passive over the years.
Some funny lines I remember (translated into English) from the opera include:
“Ah that woman…if there is such a thing as a witch, she is certainly one.” (Showin us how the poor Don Jose was slowly becoming charmed by the
free morally loose lady character, Carmen.)
“The spell is working…” Carmen’s rose does seem to have been charmed as Jose is lured by her charms.
“The weekend has come. If someone will love me, I will love him.” (An attitude shared by many s0-called “free” ladies in today’s world!)
“I resist fire, knife and heaven itself.” (Showing Carmen’s impudence and lack of any moral compass.)
“When it comes to cheating, thieving, you need a woman around. Without them, nothing good can be done.” (What a line!)
This is the cover of the programme for the evening. This one was bigger than the last 2 we got at the ballets, explaining the slightly higher price of 3 rials. Well worth it! I definitely recommend anyone going to the Opera House to arrive early and buy a programme/program from one of the Omani gentlemen in the main lobby at the small counters on either side of the Grand Staircase. It not only provides you with vital info about the principal performers, but it also lets you know all about timings for each Act and the intermissions. Plus, they make great souvenirs! 🙂
2 of the impressive set designs, designed by Gianni Quaranta! It was nice to see him come out on stage to be cheered on by the performers and audience during the curtain call. It’s hard to describe the beauty and detail of each scene. My favorite was definitely the bull-fighting arena of the 4th Act, with the colorful costumes (especially the most impressive matador costumes) and live horses on stage! Wow!
I was not quite as close to last time, so I wasn’t able to look down into the orchestra pit, but here’s a pic of La Verdi Orchestra from the programme. I had to laugh at the emotional, passionate conducting of the conductor, Patrick Fournillier. The main reason I chuckled to myself while seeing him “get into it” was because I was reminded of Muscat Muttering’s description of him here. 🙂
Well, it was quite an evening! The performers, the conductor (Patrick Fournillier), Director/Set Designer/Costume Designer/Creative Designer (Gianni Quaranta), Chorus Master (Erina Gambarini) and everyone else who came forward to be applauded during the curtain call, definitely deserved all the applause they received. As tired as the audience members must have been after 4 hours, the applause was long and heartfelt. Maybe mores0 as it was their last night (of 3) performing at the Opera House.
I’ll post this now but a little more on this tomorrow…