A day out at the opera…


To experience her first taste of opera, Lighthouse Marketing Intern Chloe Davies goes behind the scenes at English Touring Opera…

Going to English Touring Opera’s Digital Day last month was a day full of firsts – my first time listening to and watching an opera; my first time watching theatrical rehearsals; and my first time going on a works day out.

After stepping into ETO’s main building in London, the space felt like it was teeming with creativity, with a bustle of singing and feet moving to their next marker. I thoroughly enjoyed being behind the scenes and getting to know English Touring Opera’s two new shows, which are coming to the Lighthouse in November – Cinderella and The Coronation of Poppea.

I will be honest, having never been to an opera and only experiencing operas on TV, talent shows and from knowing who Luciano Pavarotti is, I didn’t really know what to expect. I certainly didn’t realise how magical this artform is.

First, we were able to sit in on the rehearsal of The Coronation of Poppaea, which is one of the earliest operas ever written. As the director and cast explained the opera’s background, choreography and direction, my imagination couldn’t stop inventing what it could be. So, to see the contemporary adaption of a classic unravel in front of me was breathtaking.

The characters were fleshed out and I could feel their emotions in their range of voice. The piece was about how Emperor Nero and replaced his wife with another… Poppaea. It reminded me of the scandals Henry VIII – one of my favourite periods of history. It was sexy, but also dangerous and funny, and completely changed my view of opera.

After a short break, I was excited to see Cinderella. How was ETO going to adapt one of the classic fairytales of my childhood? They did it seamlessly and in a contemporary style, that’s how.

With a story everyone knows, ETO keeps it fresh and exciting. We were told to come into the rehearsal room with open minds and I was stunned at how they brought the story to life, but still kept its magic and beauty. The range of voices and their technical brilliance exceeded my expectations and confirmed that I am enjoying opera and all it has to offer. I could feel the emotions coursing through the rehearsal room and was gripped by the treatment of the story.

The cast was lovely, easy to talk to and very kind-hearted, helping us with content creation too. It was great getting to know them and finding out about their interpretations of the shows.

The two shows are very different, but each one holds its own, and highlights the versatility of opera. The Coronation of Poppaea is dangerous, daring and lustful – perfect for an adult night – while Cinderella is a family favourite that will have everyone in awe.

I can’t wait to hear their melodic voices fill our Theatre. English Touring Opera has enabled me to explore opera and provided the perfect introduction to it.

:: English Touring Opera’s production of The Coronation of Poppaea and Cinderella can be seen at Lighthouse on Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 15 November. Tickets available here.