I finally lost my Opera virginity, with The Snow Maiden, thanks to Opera North’s Under 30 Scheme. It was an English translation of a well known Russian folktale that I was intrigued to see. It formed part of Opera North’s fairy tale season, so seemed a safe bet. I do find familiarity is a good comfort blanket.
The Snow Maiden, daughter of winter and spring, yearned to experience love so she entered the mortal world and began her search. However this, as her parents suspected, meant not only death of the harsh winter but also of the maiden herself. An odd story with exaggerated and emotive performances that only confirmed I would understand the plot without an English translation.
I noticed the performers did not use microphones. As a regular theatre goer this seemed very odd. Until the singing began and I realised there was no need to amplify their powerful and well trained voices. The sound reverberated around the theatre just fine. It added an element of rawness and truth that can be lost with digital equipment.
Video projection was used throughout to decorate the stage. The art work was inspired by traditional folk wear and created a border to the action, like every scene was a postcard. The imagery reflected the seasons and often the emotions on stage giving it a contemporary edge. I felt like I was watching an Opera in a snow globe. The falling snow probably helped with that illusion.
Kupava and Lel, key players in the love confusion, were big highlights as they both created moments of laughter. Yes I laughed with an Opera, not at it! They felt modern and relatable in comparison to others in this classic story. Kupava could quite easily slot into Coronation Street with her rocky relationship issues, and Lel into Hollyoaks as the newest arrogant heart throb.
The whole cast overflowed the stage and packed a real punch during the ensemble numbers. They sounded beautiful and injected moments of energy and life in to an otherwise forgettable soundtrack. It lacked any memorable tunes, rifts or lyrics. No Nessun dorma or Habenera here. Maybe the English translation left it disjointed? Or maybe my expectations were too high?
Overall my first experience of Opera was a positive one. I thought I would hate it and I didn’t. It was ok. Hurrah. I would quite like to experience a non-translated version, especially now I know that I can last three hours! So Opera North thank you for inducting me and here’s to many more.
Want to know more about their Under 30 scheme? Then sub to my Youtube channel. I am posting a video all about my experience on Friday 10th February.
Book Opera North’s fairy tale productions here https://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on
Image Credit: Opera North