Unique things to do

A guide to attending the Vancouver Opera

Written by Pirabalini

Opera is a must on everyone’s list if I dare say so myself.
The hustle and the bustle of meticulously synced harmony paired with the intensity of passionate emotions. The drama that lies behind those dramatic velvet curtains.
You will be moved with the dedication of the ensemble to create such an enchanting world for you & I.

Vancouver Opera is halfway through its season with their current CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA IN CONCERT – Feb 12 and 13, 2022 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
The final production will be Gilbert and Sullivan – April 30 and May 5, 7, and 8.
Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana in Concert is conducted by Music director Jonathan Darlington and headlined by our very own Canadian Othalie Graham.

We caught up with Othalie to gain a better understanding on her upcoming role as Santuzza and also, comprehending the art of Opera.
Operas gives off the air that it is exclusive therefore it can be intimidating to enter the Opera world.
The opera-length gloves.
Beautiful evening gowns worn by opera-goers.
The sophisticated language of music.
Not to mention the cost of tickets.

One of the biggest misconceptions about Opera is that it’s not accessible. Opera is completely accessible and should be for everyone. Opera is not just for the elite everyone can come and enjoy a performance.’

Othalie Graham

‘The easiest way to appreciate an opera would be to read a synopsis of the story before you go so you know what’s happening on stage in addition to reading the super titles. Opera is a lot easier to understand than people think. Whenever people go to their first opera they always say they didn’t expect it to be as exciting and at times emotionally overwhelming as it can be.’

Othalie Graham,Soprano
Vancouver Opera

Read the synopsis on Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana in Concert here.

Expect ‘raw emotions’, a ‘hot and glorious’ event remarked Music director Jonathan Darlington.

To be the lead character, Santuzza, is not for everyone. Othalie, Soprano is a brilliant choice to portrays such complex and fervid feelings which is a must from this character Santuzza.

A critically acclaimed North American Soprano who has performed in Turandot.
One can hear her majestic performance on the clip below.

Even her name, Othalie, is already poetic enough to bring justice to this role ( definition the name of Othalie has given one an appreciation for many beautiful and refined aspects of life–music and art).
It was written in the stars for Othalie Graham to grace the Opera stage as a dramatic soprano

… a music teacher who first discovered Graham’s “enormous, uncontrolled” vocal ability and let her parents know their daughter had something special.

 “A character like Santuzza, I really love how passionate and exciting she is. The story is a haunting and Santuzza’s passionate emotions are heightened. I read everything I can find about Santuzza and also about what the composer was doing during that time period . Next comes the technical part of diligently reading the script, translating and mark my beats where I speak the text to those beats. After much much preparation, I start to learn the actual notes with my coach. It’s definitely a very long dress rehearsal .”

Break a Leg to the cast of Cavalleria Rusticana in Concert at the Vancouver Opera this season!

Opera Etiquette

  • Go wildly elegant if you care. If not, dress as you are going to meet your partner’s parents for dinner.
  • Applause is always appropriate but it is nerve wrecking to know when to applaud especially if this is the first time to attend the opera. A brief silence does not necessarily mean applause is in order. Wait for someone to start clapping and then proceed.
    But at the very beginning, there will be light applause once everyone is seated, the lights dimmed – the conductor will walk on stage to their stand. Please applaud out of respect for all the work that the conductor has dedicated here.
  • The language of Opera is already intimidating. And at times, the entire performance is sung in foreign languages.
    Not to worry.
    There will be subtitles projected on the side or above the stage and at some venues at the screens located on front of your seats.
  • Operas are long.
    Make use of the intermission! Stretch your legs.Explore the theatre.
    Replenish. Use the restrooms. Make your way to your seats when the lights flick or when chimes are heard.
  • Turn off your phone. This is not the event , one  ‘does it for the gram’. It’s quite nice that these rules are strictly regulated.So be present and bask in all go this glory. Some moments are priceless and they cannot be captured on screen.
  • The Ushers are your guardian angels. They will guide through the darkness to your seats. Try not to bother them so much.

Opera Terminology

Vancouver Opera

Bravo (Brah-voh) for a single male performer. 

Brava (Brah-vah) for a single female performer. 

Bravi (Brah-vee) for a group of all male performers or a mix of male and female performers. 

Brave (Brah-vay) to a group of all female performers.

Playbill –  the itinerary of the program which comes in a booklet form. Notes on the cast , the synopsis and information on intermission(s) are addressed here.Keep it as a keepsake if you’d like.
Synopsis – A summary of the performance. Reading the synopsis will help you understand but be aware of spoilers.
Soprano – the highest of the four standard singing voices usually performed by a woman

Ending notes on the Opera

Vancouver Opera

Allow yourself to free fall amongst the audial expressive emotions that resonates throughout the theatre walls.
If you don’t understand what the crumb is going on, don’t be in a haste to  dismiss Opera based on a singular experience.
Opera offers many genre such as films. Ranging from romance, humour or psychodrama – do a little research on what type of genre you gravitate to. However, it is definitely guaranteed (given the chance), that sophisticated, complex emotions will arise within you.

As Kasper Holten, director of opera at the Royal Opera House in London, eloquently puts it,“In one evening, you go through in two and one-half hours what the rest of us spend our whole emotional lives living through.”

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