Rhys had never been to an opera. I'd been to a couple years ago. I saw Aida in Milan, performed in the open air. The production included live animals, including a camel. A man walked behind it, brushing up his business as singers performed their arias. Most distracting. I saw another at the iconic Sydney Opera House. It was more for the experience of the building than the opera-Bernice and something-see it was that memorable I can't remember the full title.
All these years of living in Wales, with the internationally renowned Welsh National Opera(WNO), based in Cardiff and two musicians from the Company living next door, we'd always thought opera was boring. All those fat men and plump women singing for hours in a foreign language-it wasn't for us. We had thought of opera as musical theatre primarily for toffs, although we knew some ex-miners with a penchant for Puccini.
In an attempt to try out new things this year, I booked for us to see the WNO production of Don Giovanni at the Wales Millenium Centre; the story of Don Juan, the rapacious womaniser and lovable rogue, with music by Mozart and libretto by Da Ponte. The Company have been trying to widen access to opera for years, and offered a pre-show talk by the Artistic Director. This was a great help as we learnt about the history, the context, the plot, the music, that Rodin's sculptures had inspired the set and the use of McGubbins-a devise to extend the story line with sub plot. We were promised a thrilling evening.
The story is set in Spain, sung in Italian and to Rhys's delight there were sur titles in Welsh as well as English. We could follow what was going on and enjoy the sumptuous production values, the fantastic singing and a wicked Don Giovanni, played by David Kempster who resembled Clark Gable.
On the way out, Rhys met the musicians from next door-one of whom is Rhys's guitar teacher.
'Oh, you haven't been to the opera have you?', he said as if Rhys just wasn't the sort. To which Rhys replied,
'Oh yes, it was wonderful and I want to go again!'
'Don Giovanni' is touring UK from the 12th of October 2011.