Cinderella – LA Opera
When you think of The Opera… what things come to mind? Elite, expensive, long, spectacle, subtitles, Zzzzz…? Did I hit a few? I’d never been to the opera. But as a lover of theatre and The Arts in general, I’ve felt an obligation and a curiosity to check one out. If only once. It’s like a heightened musical, yes? I love a good musical.
I decided the time was now, and I quickly honed in on Rossini’s Cinderella, now playing at the LA Opera through April 13th. Here’s a first timer’s take on the situation…
The cost. I’d say the opera is prohibitively expensive. On the official website, the cheapest tickets are $76/ticket before all the crazy additional fees. That’s a lot for the nosebleed section. However, if you are a student or a senior, you are eligible for $20 tickets through some sort of rush process. I qualify as neither, so I’m not much help on that front. I know there are tickets on Goldstar from time to time. My partner and I sat in the “cheap” seat section. The worst part was climbing four flights of stairs (yes, there is an elevator) but the seats themselves, not too bad. High up, but not too bad. That’s the good news. There are binoculars available to rent for $5.00. The rental is a cool idea, although it makes your exit from the theatre a little lengthy, as you need to return them to get your ID back.
Elite-ness. The opera seems to be for the upper crust of America. The crowd was relatively diverse in their attire. Some were in tuxes and ball gowns, others in good jeans and clean shirts. Typical LA. I say, wear your Sunday best and you’ll be somewhere in the middle. It makes for some fun people watching.
Choice of show. I chose Cinderella, carefully. I already know the story. This is a big plus, I think. Three or more hours is a long time to not know what’s going on, so I thought I’d make it easy on myself. There is a synopsis in the program, but I stand by the choice to see an opera in which you are very familiar with the story, at least the first time around.
The subtitles. My opera of choice was in Italian. I was concerned that I would spend the entire time staring at the subtitles (even though I knew the story inside and out) and would never really get to watch the action on stage. My fears were not realized. Apparently there is a lot of repetition in opera. Who knew? So while the subtitles read, “That’s ridiculous!” They may be singing, “That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous, I say. Ridiculous. This is ridiculous!” So there’s plenty of time to read and watch.
The spectacle. The opera has some spectacle. It’s large. I’m not sure how else to say it. A Broadway musical has spectacle, too. It’s different; a different kind of spectacle. Musicals can be glitzy. Operas are grand. This opinion comes from seeing this one opera, but I stand by it. The costumes and scenery, both by Joan Guillen much to my surprise, are whimsical, colorful and fun. The opera has it’s own wig department, and if this show is any indication, it’s a busy place to work. They have a giganto set with large set pieces to fill it. And lots of performers. That too.
The show. I think it’s easy to watch a piece of theatre and say, “I can do that.” I don’t believe that happens nearly as often with opera, because most simply can’t. Opera doesn’t suffer from being deceptively easy. I can’t belt out a tune like that, and likely neither can you. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed myself so much, I think. And I truly did. The orchestra was magical, and the singers (mostly imports from other regions, but we won’t hold that against them)… lovely. I can’t do it, and I’m in awe. It was funny and lacked the pretension I always assumed would be there. I believe the director, Joan Font and Choreographer Xevi Dorca should be commended for that… and Grant Gershon, the director of the chorus. The production is only as good as its chorus, I always say. And for the most part, the show captivated my attention for over three hours. There were a surprising amount of children present. If they can sit through it… and enjoy (which I believe they did) you certainly can, too. And if this is of interest, this version has a few intriguing twists in the story we all know. Not enough to lose you, just to further peak your interest.
I highly recommend Gioachino Rossini’s Cinderella as a first-time opera experience. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, downtown L.A.
7:30 p.m. April 3 and 13; 2 p.m. April 7
(213) 972-8001 or http://www.laopera.com