Think of settings for opera and one usually thinks of, well, the Royal Opera House: grand, lofty buildings with seating for thousands and an orchestra pit bigger that a student flat. The very idea of an opera star singing her heart out, head titled back and chest inflated, encompasses the assumption that their voice needs to reach legions of audience members.
What, then, occurs when operas are staged in very much smaller settings? This year’s performance by the Opera Project at the Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol will go some way towards answering this. The Tobacco Factory favors innovative and unique shows and this offering looks rather attractive.
Following on from last year’s staging of La bohème (interestingly, also being performed this year by The Welsh National Opera down the road in the much bigger setting of the Bristol Hippodrome), Opera Project are turning their hands and voices to Tschaicovsky and the melancholic tale of Eugene Onegin.
Originally written as a novel by Pushkin, Eugene Onegin tells the tale of Tatyana whom the older, more cynical Eugene rejects after she declares her love for him. Later in life, at the St. Petersburg Ball, Eugene sees Tatyana and is confronted with the mistake he made, however it is now too late to do anything about it as Tatyana has already married. Between these two events there is also a dramatic duel between Eugene and his friend, the poet Lensky, resulting in the latter being killed which devastates Eugene. A swirling mass of emotion for the Tobacco Factory’s cosy theatre!
For those more familiar with ballet than opera, it will also be intriguing to hear the lush, romantic music of Tchaicovsky in this intimate theatre. Anyone who was lucky enough to catch as screening of Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film, Black Swan in a small cinema will attest to how overpowering hearing the sounds of Swan Lake consuming an auditorium were, but add to that the fact this is a live performance and chances are this will be an enlivening event to attend.
If you are an opera novice, this might well be a good opera to begin with as all of the songs are sung in English. Additionally, it is set in the 19th century, making the significance of social conventions and mannerisms easy to interpret. For those who are familiar with the genre this is similarly not an event to pass by, as it may be a long wait until the next opportunity to see an opera in such a small theatre. As the temperature drops, indulge in some heart-warming arias.
Eugene Onegin, Tobacco Factory, Bristol,
Tuesday 16th October– Saturday 27th October 2012
Tickets: £28 – £35
Box Office 0117 902 0344