New to opera blog (Part 1)

Posted on Wed, 2014-02-05 19:27 by Backstage

Hello opera lovers, I’m Louise Morris, the new Marketing and Press Intern at Welsh National Opera (although after these blogs, I may be the former Marketing and Press Intern... But, let’s not worry about that just yet). This is my first week at the organisation and thus far it has been a welcoming and most enjoyable experience.

My background has been mostly arts related throughout my entire life, actively attending and participating in art since a young age - I have an Undergraduate degree in English Literature from Aberystwyth University and I have recently completed a Masters in Arts Management at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. In my spare time, I am also a freelance writer for various magazines and I often write a script or two.   

Growing up in the heart of the South Wales Valleys, the arts acted as an escape route for me; whenever I was participating in a production, writing stories or just reading a book, it felt as though I was a million miles away from all the post-1980s struggles my town had experienced. I remember my first trip to a theatre – I was six years old and it was a tour of Sherman Theatre (now a gorgeously renovated Sherman Cymru); we were shown how everything worked; the ticket office, backstage and we even met some of the actors who were performing there at that time. Sitting up in my seat, I remember watching these artists perform – there was a freedom to it, a Peter Pan-esque aspect to it that intrigued me, it was truly something that I had never seen before. I’ll be honest, the height of culture I had experienced up to that point was ‘Spice World: The Movie’ (which I’m sure you’ll agree is a modern classic). This one experience in my life created a  realisation that has stayed with me to this day; that when I grew up I didn’t have to get any old job, I could work towards a profession that truly meant something to me with endless opportunities where I could learn and develop something new every day. Of course, I didn’t have a name for such a profession at such a young age and after going through the phases of wanting to be a Police Officer, a Nurse and a Teacher, I finally realised that a career in the arts was my true calling and that it was possible – my future career had been staring me in the face the entire time. Looking back on the rich tapestry that has been the last twenty-three years of my life, I truly believe that everything I have experienced has been meant to lead me here.

But... I have something to confess: I’m an opera virgin. That’s right - I have never seen an opera performed live on stage before. Throughout the years I have sampled many of the classics, the Royal Shakespeare Company productions being a favourite of mine and I have even sampled what the West End has to offer, but I’m afraid opera has slipped through the net. It has always been in the peripheral - my Uncle and my late Grandmother were avid fans of classical music but growing up I had always been swayed more towards classic rock and pop music. Until my late teens I guess I did view opera as a tad old-fashioned – after all, how could artists such as Puccini compete with a 5-piece boy band on Top of the Pops?! I also think that from a ‘class’ aspect, opera didn’t seem to be available to people like me – I thought it was for ‘posh people’. Don’t worry; I’ve done a lot of growing up since then.

So you are probably wondering why I’m here; surely an internship such as this should be open to an opera aficionado of some kind, and on one level you may be right. However, I believe it is becoming more and more important to involve young people in the arts and for that matter, people of any age. Open a newspaper and you will see that the arts are currently experiencing severe cuts across the United Kingdom. Therefore it is of the upmost importance that we educate people in a diverse range of art forms, ranging from the opera to Videogames (remember, art is subjective). The Powers That Be need to realise that art needs to be inclusive for all to survive, grow and evolve – and this is what Welsh National Opera does so well. For instance, I have found their ‘New to Opera’ section on their website particularly helpful.

Tonight I will be viewing the dress rehearsal of Manon Lescaut as part of Welsh National Opera’s Fallen Women season and I must say I am very much looking forward to it; my first live opera production at the ripe old age of 23. I’ll be honest, I’m not too sure what to expect – I’m aware that it won’t be full of fat men and women in powdered wigs; Mariusz Trelinski’s Manon Lescaut has a rather modern vibe to it, so for opera virgins such as myself, it should be pretty easy going. I see no reason why I shouldn’t enjoy tonight’s dress rehearsal and hopefully this will spur me on to view more traditional material in the months to come.