I’ve been to the opera two or three times, and always enjoyed it. When I was a student in Manchester we saw the Chisinau National Opera perform Tosca, and fell in love with the wonderful sacristan in the first act. Afterwards we’d walk up Peter St and past the Midland Hotel to Oxford St and the tiny Temple Bar, with the best dukebox in the city and a martini to knock your socks off.
I’ve seen the Prague State Opera at their glorious house at the top of the City, which has had its fair share of drama. In the 1940’s the Nazis used the opera house for rallies. Czechoslovakia got a bad deal in the war; forced to give up the Sudetenland, they were sort of left to fend for themselves, and one feels quite sorry for them.
In 1989 students demonstrated in the square in front of the adjacent Town Hall – perestroika and glasnost were four years old, yet it took a week of struggle to show the communist leaders that the writing was on the wall. Now there’s a MacDonald’s in Wenceslas Square, which should make it quite clear.
They sang Nabucco in Italian (of course!), with Czech surtitles, so my (then) girlfriend and I were quite lost. Heads turned as I hummed along to the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, and we gasped appropriately as God Himself appeared. It was Awesome.
I’ve been to New York three times, and haven’t once been to the Met. When, last night, I saw a poster for live performances, via sattelite, of Met Operas at the BFI Imax on the South bank of the Thames, I thought it’d be a lovely thing to do just after New Years’. But they’re selling the good tickets for £25 a shot, and with prices like that I’d rather see the real thing.