Royal Opera House
Regular readers of this blog may have figured out by now how much I enjoy listening to live music. And that I especially enjoy seeking out opportunities to hear live music whenever I travel.
I have my mother to thank for that. She took my sister and me at the tender ages of twelve and thirteen to hear a recital of Bach organ music in the Bovenkerk of Kampen, the Dutch town where we happened to be living at the time. The sounds of the organ’s principal pipes reverberating in the centuries-old Gothic arches high above us made quite an impression on me (as did how cold we got sitting in an unheated stone church on a crisp evening in late November).
Something about that night stuck with me and, to this day, Bach remains my favourite composer. So much of a favourite that I even named my cat after him. Upon our family’s return to Canada, I was motivated enough to continue my music studies for another six years, soon switching from piano to pipe organ. I doubt my mother had any idea what a couple hours of Bach organ music could do to me.
But enough about Bach. Let’s get back to the other guy. You know, Mozart. My post the other week on Mozart in Prague reminded me of another memorable opera experience I’ve had, this one of hearing Rossini’s The Barber of Seville at London’s Royal Opera House (aka Covent Garden).
I’ve written before how the opera at Covent Garden is completely within reach of the budget traveller, so, unless you really cannot stand opera (and I won’t hold that against you), there is no reason not to go. The website for the Royal Opera House is easy to use and the nifty thing about ordering tickets online is that you see the view of the stage you will have from the exact seat you’ve selected before you commit to your purchase. How cool is that?
What’s particularly fun about the cheap seats (once you’ve caught your breath from climbing waaaaaay up into the rafters of the building) is what a terrific view you have of a truly remarkable building. And ― bonus ― you have a bird’s-eye view of the performance. I witnessed the dramatic entrance of the barber (that would be the Barber of Seville) as he ran all the way down the aisle from the back of the auditorium to the stage ― something the people sitting at the front of the orchestra level missed because all the action took place behind them.
Sadly, I have no photos of the interior of Covent Garden ― that will have to wait until my next visit to London. Here, though, is a picture of its exterior, which dates back to 1858. I took this photo after stopping by the box office to pick up my ticket that I had purchased weeks earlier before leaving home. It was the last time I saw the beautiful, Italian-made leather wallet I had bought a few years earlier in Rome ― less than a half hour later, I would reach into my bag to realize it was gone.
But that’s a story for another post.