Che gelida manina
This morning Facebook reminded me that a year ago today I received a ticket for The Marriage of Figaro …….. I recall at the time being upbeat on receipt of this, as you can’t beat a good wedding, can you?!
I had chosen to take in this production after savouring my first experience of opera in 2014, when I counted myself among the audience of La Boheme at the Leeds Grand Theatre.
I don’t pretend to be an opera aficionado, however at the time I thought I’d take in Opera North’s version of La Boheme to broaden my horizons; in addition to removing a ‘to do’ from the bucket list.
There are a lot of myths surrounding opera. Some say it is the last bastion of anyone named Tarquin. From my experience, that was nonsense as there were several people with other names like Rupert, Assigna, Crysanth and Gerbera! ……. Actually, I might be mixing that up with the hardy shrubs at Strikes Garden Centre!
To be serious though, I encountered no snobbery while attending the performance of La Boheme. Some of the audience complained about the ‘rear stalls’ being renamed the ‘oinks seats’ for the night. However, I personally think they were being overly sensitive!
Leeds Grand Theatre
It has to be said that I found this cultural venture cathartic and spiritually thought provoking. I particularly surprised myself at how well I followed the plot, despite speaking no Italian!
For those who are unfamiliar with the plot, La Boheme is the everyday tale of boy meets girl; boy and girl fall in love; boy forgets lotto scratch card from Sainsburys; girl goes ballistic; boy goes to pub in a huff; girl contracts Consumption; boy has no idea what Consumption is!……. Errr, to be honest I lost track a bit after that!!
Boy and girl argue after boy absentmindedly forgets lotto scratch card!
As I said above, I didn’t know a great deal about opera prior to La Boheme, apart from knowing that it wasn’t all over until the fat lady sings. That initially confused me as the portly woman adjacent to me in the audience hummed and sang along with the arias from start to finish! As a result, throughout the whole production, I thought it was going to conclude at any second!
I learned several useful life lessons during my inaugural journey into the realms of culture. For instance, I now know dressing in fancy dress and standing conducting with a knitting needle is evidently frowned upon! …… I’m not sure why as I personally don’t see the harm in trying to keep the orchestra in time dressed as Scooby Doo, but point taken!
“And tonight the orchestra will be conducted by ….”
A couple of months after watching La Boheme I found myself in the audience of another opera (La Traviata) at the Leeds Grand Theatre.
To be clear, I hadn’t intended on being in the audience. However, after taking a wrong turn outside of Primark on the Headrow, I found myself in the theatre’s ‘oink seat’ surrounded by a busker, a plump lady and a bloke dressed in a Scooby Doo outfit!
Not wishing to appear rude, I remained seated quietly throughout the production. However, I was ill at ease throughout as I was ticketless, the rotund lady’s humming was irritating me, the busker kept inadvertently prodding me with his guitar and I was apprehensive that Scooby Doo may make a show of himself by conducting the orchestra!
For those who are unfamiliar with the plot, La Traviata is the everyday tale of boy meets girl; boy and girl fall in love; boy forgets lotto scratch card from Sainsburys; girl goes ballistic; boy goes to pub in a huff; girl contracts Consumption; boy has no idea what Consumption is!……. Errr, to be honest I lost track a bit after that, as well!!
When I finally got to see The Marriage of Figaro last year it all went off swimmingly. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the vows were exchanged…… I knew it would be a mistake holding the matrimonial ceremony in a Spanish onion storehouse!
It was a joyeus Iberian celebration, during which the chubby lady sat next to me, much to her elation caught the bride’s posy. She wasn’t the only one upbeat; Scooby Doo seemed content troughing the buffet (especially the Scooby snacks), not to mention being allowed to conduct along to Se a caso madama la notte ti chiamain in Act 1.
One of the most widely known arias in La Boheme is the stirring ‘Che Gelida Manina’, which roughly translates as ‘Your tiny hand is frozen’. Well, there is more than my hands frozen on this chilled January morning, so I’m off to put the heating on and don my Scooby Doo fancy dress outfit to warm myself up!