Written By: Nora Guerrero
When one images an opera, one may think of a very large venue with cascading seats above and attendees in their long dresses and fancy suits. However, this was not the case for what I experienced at my first opera. La Bohème, directed by Nathan Gunn and joined by conductor Donald Schleicher, made for a sweet combination of talent reflected in the music and the actors. If you have not been to an opera before, this may be the best to watch to dip your feet in the waters.
I was most entranced by the visual elements of the scenery. The hanging windows and building walls, and the slow falling snow. It all helped set the scene and the tone. They quickly changes locations and sets. I loved the setting of the Cafe and the downtown looking area with shuffling people and carts of holiday toys.
The characters are developed slowly, but as the 4 men come together as friends, more of their personalities shine through. Watching them reminded me of a group of fraternity brothers struggling to keep warm because they aren’t familiar with a thermostat, or haven’t made enough money to pay rent. Their chicanery is all too familiar to the actions of what may actually occur in real life, or in a movie to create comedy.
The use of the English language titles is helpful, but having to look up at the lines and also watch the opera takes away from the experience. I wished that I could understand the French language completely. Being a native Spanish speaker, I could understand some occasional words. I recently visited Italy, and some of the phrases like “Thank you”, and “Have a good day” were very familiar. I think I would’ve been able to enjoy the opera more with knowing the language. I had not been to an opera before, so I found myself wondering what it must take to be a great opera singer, and how these singers rank. The orchestra often enhanced their words as it followed their tone and their rhythm. It was easy to forget that the orchestra was present since they are hidden below the stage.
The opera moved quite quickly, faster than I imagined since my pre-conceived idea about operas was that they lasted over 3 hours. It was an interesting experience, and I would try to see another again in a larger venue to get a different experience.