Music

Not the Opera type? Think again thanks to Madam Butterfly Undressed

It’s easy to make quick assumptions about the opera. Many of us do, and judging the type of person that frequents such an event is often where we start.

You must have expensive taste, fancy clothes and enough knowledge of the Opera to put Eggheads to shame. Right?

Wrong.

I, for one, wasn’t raised on evenings at The London Coliseum. My dad did take me to Brixton to see Limp Bizkit aged 14 though, but my years of navigating a mosh pit don’t feel all that transferable to the opera.

Which made me the perfect candidate for English National Opera Undressed.

This ready-made service is designed for those unassuming first opera trips; for the curious and slightly clueless.

Your £20 ticket includes:

  • One of the best seats in the house (worth £89)
  • A pre-performance talk about the production
  • An outline of the opera’s story in advance
  • A complimentary gin and tonic at a post-show party with the cast
  • A discount for future ENO performances

Earlier this month I stepped up to the plate, as it were, graced the glorious, tumbling staircase of The London Coliseum and nestled in my rather splendid circle balcony seat. I could get used to this view.

The stage was understated and the room appeared full of wealthy suits. On closer inspection (though not close enough to invade any personal space), the casual familiarity of trainers, jeans and jersey fabrics make themselves known. For comparability, I opted for head-to-toe black with a denim jacket adorned in band patches and pins. Casual, I thought.

We were advised to read the synopsis before the show. I did this, plus asking the advice of my colleagues. Only then do you fully appreciate the diverse impact any narrative can have of different people, but I had the gist of things. Madam Butterfly is the ultimate tale of unrequited love; consider me hooked.

I’m pretty sure someone forgot to highlight the word enduring in the synopsis though, because after two intervals and three hours of heartbreak and misery, my emotional state would be in tatters.

Still, there are plenty of uplifting moments throughout the performance; there’s humour (far more of it than I was expecting), the occasional crowd cheer (I definitely didn’t think that was allowed) and a charismatic cast that would give the guys in Jersey Boys a run for their money.

‘Are there always subtitles?’ was my biggest post-show question, and after persistently putting the question to everyone in the office, no one was quite sure… But subtitles, there were; despite everything being sung in English (yet at such a speed that made the subtitles a welcomed addiction most of the time).

The opera is, as you may’ve heard, quite unlike anything else. What I’ve only just gathered though, is that punks are also welcome. Whatever your music genre preference, in fact, ENO Undressed has just made this not-so-traditional-British-tradition way more accessible and considerably less intimidating.

Head to Ticketmaster.co.uk/ENO for all upcoming ENO events and tickets. 

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