When I first heard about A Younger Theatre I was truly inspired by how the website was run. I spent three days getting up to speed with all the blogs and reading up on my fair share of reviews. I am a fairly new convert to Twitter, so it was not long before I saw @ayoungertheatre’s tweet about a trip to the opera organised with ENO. It was designed for people who had never seen an opera before, and after carefully looking through my collection of tickets (what can I say, I am a hoarder!), I realised I had never been to the opera.
Then it was a question of, why? I am in my early twenties, an aspiring theatre director and not far from central London. Why had I never taken the time to see an opera? There is such a stereotype around the opera – does the younger generation really fit in there?
Well, yes, we do. More than ever, the opera is becoming accessible to the younger generation. Growing up in a world where the avant-garde is the every day (an oxymoron indeed), we are not so used to the flamboyant and melodramatic style of opera. Yet, given the chance, there is still beauty in this historic art form – seemingly why it has remained in popular culture for so long.
The Passenger was a very difficult opera to stomach for the first time. Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz, Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg’s 1968 opera takes you back to the desolate world of Auschwitz and the fine line between right and wrong. One of the first things I noticed was how painstakingly slow everything was; this was until I began to understand the beauty of the music. If you ever go to an opera I suggest shutting your eyes for a brief time, allowing the music to tell the story. The famous American Composer John Philip Sousa once said “Grand opera is the most powerful of stage appeals and that almost entirely through the beauty of music”.
Back to the original question, then: does the younger generation fit in here? Behind the glitz and the glamour, the painted wigs and powdered faces, we were all hearing the same tune, and for a brief time, all taken back to the horrors of Auschwitz. Old or young, we all heard that song.
Written by Saara El-Arifi.
You can read another response from A Younger Theatre’s and ENO’s ‘A Night at the Opera’ from Ryan Sullivan here.
Photo by Grant Smith