Monday, October 24, 2011

La Traviata

My good friends at the University of Essex gave me a fabulous farewell present - two tickets to La Traviata at the London Opera House.  Though I left Essex back in July, my tickets were not until October - last Saturday to be precise. And well worth waiting for!

La Traviata means 'the tramp'. Well, ok it translates as 'the fallen woman' but tramp kind of says it all. But in fact she is just a good time girl who is having a ball, makes the fatal mistake of falling in love and discovers she has consumption (tuberculosis). All set for a fun-filled evening?!

Yes! The singing was amazing, the set and costumes sumptuous as expected. And I managed to spot Philip - one of the chorus. Now why was I interested in spotting a member of the chorus? Because by mad chance, I had played bass for a celidh band for his 50th birthday the previous week in Lewisham. Small world, eh? Don't go to the opera for years, then bump into several of the cast of the next opera I am going to see within seven days.

I asked my friend to come with me so that we could have a good old 'girls night' on the town. She was due to arrive for lunch but the vagaries of a closed M11 delayed her arrival. Instead of duck and wild rice for lunch we had a couple of hasty but tasty duck sandwiches.

Anyway, back to the opera. We travelled on the train to Kings Cross, then to Covent Garden. Oh boy, I don't like those lifts at that station! We wandered round the market for a bit and had some supper (take away jacket potatoes) and a drink. Then to the opera house for our dose of culture!

But I'm getting ahead of myself, because on the train journey we met an interesting chap. Sitting in seats parallel to us were two young men, early 30s probably, with accompanying tins of cider  and shiny bomber jackets (and a Protestant tie). The one nearest me leaned over and, in a very broad Scots accent, asked if we minded him asking where we were going? Of course not, I replied, the opera.  What ensued may not be what you would typically expect. We then had a conversation about modern art, in particular Picasso. This young man and his colleague were on their way to Corby to an art exhibition. Don't go by appearances. The two lads departed at Stevenage and wished us well for our evening. We responded likewise, hoping they remained sober enough to reach their art exhibition.

We arrived at Kings Cross to refill our oyster cards and hit the underground. My friend queued up at the ticket windown and the young man serving her said 'any railcards, like senior citizens?' Standing nearby I could not help but hoot with laughter! My friend is many years off her senior citizens railcard! The ticket seller looked up and, as much as a gent with such lovely dark skin could, went as red as possible with embarassment. I perhaps shouldn't have put this, but it was terribly funny.

We did eventually reach the opera and, though sat high, we still had a reasonably good view and the show was fabulous. We enjoyed a wine in the wonderfully refurbished bar at the interval, and left (shamefully) before the final curtain calls so we could join the throng at the underground station before it became too like a cattle market.

The journey back was speedy and pleasant, with us both tired and relaxed after a full evening's culture. And I don't just mean the opera.

Photograph of the opera from the Guardian review. All copyright remains with the original publisher.
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