Carmen and Blogger Night at the Opera


Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 — 3:19pm PST
Comments 19

This evening I will be joined by other wonderful bloggers to experience Carmen as guests of the Vancouver Opera. We’ll be setup in the lobby to take photos, jot down thoughts, notes, and any interesting tidbits we have to share. Between acts, we’ll have updates and early reviews as well. If you are attending the opera tonight, please feel free to stop by and say hello, and if you’re at home, check back here around 6:30pm for some pre-opera blogging.

Update: I arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and joined up with the other bloggers, Ami, Tanya, and Kimli. Moments later Terry Harper, the Director of Production was kind enough to sweep us away for a private tour backstage.

Blogger Night at the Opera - Carmen

Blogger Night at the Opera - Carmen

It was great to see the sets going up, meet some of the people who make the production happen, and see how everyone gets prepared for the big evening.

I have to say that the Vancouver Opera has been great so far, giving us tickets, as well as putting up a sign near our table stating each of our names and full URLs — the first time of all my 30-some liveblogs that a host has done so (from tech events to hockey games).

Blogger Night at the Opera - Carmen

At some point I know I’m going to feel like a caged animal (and the “please do not feed the bloggers” note at the bottom of our sign doesn’t help — but it’s cute) however everyone passing by is in great spirits and are asking us some wonderful questions.

The General Director of the opera, James W. Wright, just walked past and shook each of our hands, “now what are you people doing here?” he said in jest as he took time to “speak with his bloggers.” They just keep making us feel more and more special, this is pretty great.

Blogger Night at the Opera - Carmen

Blogger Night at the Opera - Carmen

Blogger Night at the Opera - Carmen

Blogger Night at the Opera - Carmen

Update: We are now heading in for Act I, we’ll be back soon (my photos are also going up on Flickr).

Update: We’re in the middle of a 20 minute intermission. I’m currently battling a cold and although I spent most of the first act wondering if my nose was whistling or trying to control my laboured breathing I still enjoyed the show. Being that I know French it’s actually a lot easier to follow than Eugine Onegin (which was in Russian) so I didn’t have to look up as often to follow the sur-titles. The set looks fabulous, from this side of the stage, the story is captivating thus far, and boy that Carmen sure is one troublemaker (in her beautiful red corset).

Vancouver Opera Carmen
VO Carmen – Rinat Shaham as Carmen – Photo by Tim Matheson

I’m moreso fascinated by the folks in the lobby who stop the speak with us while we’re blogging. Tanya is getting asked about her HP Netbook (since it’s about half the size of my MacBook) and we’re fielding questions from “what is a blog”, “who will read that,” to “is this going on Facebook?”, and “do you get to see the show”? Everyone is very friendly and Ling (whom I met with to first discuss a blogger night at the opera) just brought us over some food after she read on Kimli’s site that she had missed dinner. Things sure are happening fast and in real-time.

We have three more acts to go, so I’ll check back in with more thoughts on Carmen in just a few minutes…

Update: I think I’m going to have to get more in-depth about the actual opera when I get home this evening as I only have about 10 more minutes to give an update. The first act featured an introduction to Carmen and her devilishly seductive ways, literally having a man (Don Jose) take the fall for her. In the second act he returns and must make a choice between his country and his lust erm… love for Carmen, a decision that pretty much ends up being made for him. However, we were also introduced to quite the self-assured toreador, Escamillo and while I am avoiding the synopsis I’m certain he will make a return. Again, very speedy commentary as the 5 minute warning to return to our seats it about to sound. Apologies to the couple at the end of our row as we all file out at every break. And now for Act III…

Update: It’s all over and we’re heading our seperate ways. I’ll have more coverage later but would sincerely like to thank the Vancouver Opera for being amazing hosts this evening (especially Selina and Ling), and I continue to be amazed by their fine productions and unlimited talents, both on and off the stage.

Update: “Who knows why we fall in love,” said a woman sitting behind me at the theatre. The word love was tossed around a lot tonight but I think it means many things… lust, perseverance, passion, and not just for a companion — freedom was also chanted, bellowed, and mourned.

While women in gowns take the arms of gentlemen in tuxedos as they glide through the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth theatre everyone is in good spirits. They pass to say hello to a crew sitting at a table with their heads tilted downward while feverishly typing away, documenting their experiences, then take their seats to discuss Carmen and her motives. “She likes him because she can control him,” said another woman about Don Jose, “but that’s probably also why she loses interest,” mentions another.

The opera is a welcoming atmosphere, for those who may think otherwise, even for someone like me who admits they recognized most of the rhythms from old Bugs Bunny cartoons (or more recently that episode of Family Guy where Brian hears Pearl sing Habanera… but I digress).

Rinat Shaham‘s delivery is captivating and you end up routing for the troubled yet headstrong vixen, while the orchestra, chorus, and cast were each mesmerizing. To say Carmen is a classic is a severe understatement; it’s humorous, playful, melodramatic, and tragic, yet splashed with so much colour even among the drab nomadic settings of a gypsy camp.

You can catch Carmen January 29th and 31st as well as February 3rd and 5th and tickets start at $23 (which is pretty much what you would pay for a movie ticket and a popcorn combo). It’s an opportunity I encourage every Vancouverite to experience — dress up, head out on the town, and get lost in the soothing yet tempestuous melodies of the opera.

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19 comments

  1. Hez says:

    Awww… Carmen was my very first opera. I was 9, and it still sends a frisson down my spine when the overture begins. Have a wonderful time and clatter a few castanets for your pal Hez. xoxo

  2. Eagranie says:

    How progressive of the Opera to acknowledge and incorporate blogging into their world. As opposed to, say, some ski hills in the area.;)

  3. Tris Hussey says:

    Yes, but have you seen Sheila? I’m glad you’re liking Carmen. And I’d cross out “don’t” on the “don’t feed the bloggers” myself 😉

  4. Raul says:

    Very cool 🙂 Tris and I did a video-guest review on Sexy in VanCity 😀 It looks like you guys are enjoying it enormously!

  5. JP Holecka says:

    I can’t wait. I spent a week in Seville last summer with my Wife and 4 year old son. It truly is a city of rich history and they are very proud of the story of Carmen!

    We will be leaving the little lad at home this time around as I am not sure that he is ready for the opera!

    JP

  6. Miss604 says:

    @ Tris, I spotted her every time — loved the green corset!

  7. Ling says:

    Hi Rebecca! Thanks so much for being one of our very first bloggers at the opera! It was a smash and we so enjoyed having you there. See you at the next one!

  8. David says:

    There have been some posts in a prominent blog in New York City by Greg Sandow (http://www.artsjournal.com/sandow/ ) about the future of Classical Music (and often the entries are pretty grim). One thing that Sandow calls out is the lack of connection between the music of the past and people growing up today – that it has no relevance to people in mainstream culture.

    I think that both the Vancouver Opera and Miss604 are giving a breath of fresh air to the Opera. You make it the place to be on a January evening, and they are smart to make you feel welcome and special. I’m thrilled and proud that this happened in Vancouver, which up to now, I’ve felt kept Classical Music stuffy and only played to people with grey hair. Here’s to the concert hall and opera stage coming back into everyone’s life!

  9. luc says:

    Carmen – also Jan 31st, when I’m going 🙂

  10. Tyler says:

    Don’t know if I would do well watching Opera. I mean I love going to see plays but not being able to understand Opera very well might make me wiggle in my chair a bit.

  11. Tris Hussey says:

    @Rebecca: I know I wish she could bring that green one home!

    @Tyler: believe me, the sur-titles help and the music is enthralling. You’d do fine. I had the same fear.

  12. Heather says:

    Thank you for such great coverage of two of the most important and passionate things in my life: Opera (I sing with VO; I was one of those cat-fighting cigarette girls who jumps on Carmen’s back), and the fight to save my building, Seafield Apartments, from renoviction (which you so wonderfully blogged about in November). I’m thrilled you found “Carmen” to be a welcoming and exciting evening in the theatre. Thanks for helping to introduce more people to one of the world’s greatest pleasures!

  13. […] – Rebecca/Miss604 – Ami/Beyond Robson – Ling/Vancouver […]

  14. Selina says:

    Thanks for coming Rebecca, even with a cold! Sorry your other half couldn’t make it. It’s been great working with you on this!

  15. Andrea says:

    Great commentary. Lucky you for having the opportunity to make it backstage. The set was quite beautiful from where we were sitting, I can only imagine how majestic it must have been up close.

  16. Irene Caudwell says:

    Hi, I’m one of those grey haired types, but have loved opera since I was a little girl. I think this blogging bit was a great idea.

  17. […] please tune in here on Saturday (tomorrow) for our Rigoletto coverage (or please read my review of Carmen. I assure you it will be far easier to read, and much more pleasant, coming directly from the […]

  18. […] — I particularly enjoyed the lighting. Many were asking how it fared after our time spent at Carmen and I have to say that the productions were so different and amazing in their own right. The power […]

  19. […] Opera decided it was time to get a different take on local buzz about the show, and provided me, Miss 604 (Rebecca), Kimli, and Ami from Beyond Robson each a ticket so that we could write about our first-hand […]

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