Had my first ever trip to the opera on Saturday night. Hannah and Catrin (both looking a million dollars) accompanied me to the Royal Albert Hall for my maiden operatic voyage. Despite feeling a little seedy from a 4am poker game and impromptu creative writing session with the new housemates, and a mid-afternoon rum sampling session with the Klau Boys, I managed to make it to the Albert Hall just in the nick of time for the action to commence… not in time to buy a programme, however.

This error proved to be fatal.

Despite the opera being in English, my grasp of what was going on was limited, at best. I'd been primed ahead of time that the storyline was reasonably close to that of the musical Rent, which I know fairly well… and this much was obvious fairly shortly into the affair, with plenty of character similarity and for that matter what I could make out of the storyline was pretty much a direct crossover (other than being set in 40's Paris rather than 90's New York).

Having never been to an opera before however, I had no appreciation for the pace of the thing, and nor had I bothered to check how long it would go for. My already tenuous sense of timing was further disrupted by the fact that I glanced the woman in front's programme and saw that there were 4 acts to this production.

Without wanting to drag out the drama of the situation, my temporal misdirection was further exacerbated by having been up til 4am the night before (don't worry, I'm only going to mention it another 15 or 16 times).

There was an interval, and I wasn't sure if it was half time or quarter time… then the guy ran out of red wine so Catrin couldn't buy one for Hannah. Then his cash register jammed so he couldn't give her change. We managed to procure a free coffee for me on that basis, and it was purely the Starbucks Corporation that I have to thank for making it through that opera intact. Grr. Once again they infiltrate my life. We cunningly found another wine source, then found Hannah, who had found her own wine source (she could probably get a part time job as a divining rod for booze, I reckon !). THEN the bell thing went for us to go back in, and then when we tried to go in the snooty woman in the red coat said we weren't allowed to take our drinks in. The cheek ! Who the hell charges you 50 squid for a ticket and then makes you sit there without a drink!!?

Right, so the opera starts up again, there's more indistinct singing, there's lots of people running around in costumes looking like they're thrilled to be there… there was fake snow going on that looked like icing sugar… this show truly had everything. I'd pretty well totally lost my place in the storyline though – I suspect it had stopped resembling Rent by now though.

Next there was some crying, then the girl did a bit of lying about in bed while the blokes were being generally morose, and then the bowing all started. It's a good job everyone was looking at the stage and not me, because I definitely had a very confused “what the hell just happened” look about me.

Clearly, the interval had been at half time.

So, important tips for the next trip to the opera include being prepared that people were easier to entertain back in Puccini's time, researching the plotline before the event so as to avoid the need to have to crane one's head to hear what's going on so you can follow it properly, and of course Get A Good Night's Sleep The Night Before, or it might as well not be in bloody English.

Oh yeah, the music was good too. That is all.

2006-02-28 : There were no fat ladies ?! Does that mean the show’s not over ??
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