Friday, March 06, 2009

Odd corners at the Opera House.

Of quite recent years I've acquired a charming nephew-in-law who has a gift with anything sparkly. This talent being recognised, he has recently come into the job of his dreams at the Royal Opera House in London, in the lighting department. He very kindly gave us a tour. I'd never been there before, and I was astonished how big it was, and how much he knew about it, after really quite a short time of working there.

He took us from top



to bottom.



We saw the Flying Dutchman's ship being built, and a great room full of young dancers, long-eyed boys like fauns and slender girls like wood-nymphs, and much more besides.

We saw the stage being prepared for that evening's performance. Something about watching, from above as an outsider, the stagehands going about their purpose in pools of light,


while the decontextualised translated surtitles for the opera hung in the dark above them, was unsettlingly, mysteriously beautiful.

But the very vastness of the place meant that I could only really capture corners,


and glimpses.




In fact, we weren't really supposed to be using cameras at all. And almost certainly not in one particular corner.

There was some concern that Kiwi Nephew and his younger auntie (moi) came out of the Queen's private toilet carrying cameras and giggling. We were indeed tempted, but refrained from writing something rude on the wall to greet her when she next came, but the documentary photo opportunity was too good to pass up, we thought.

In fact, any such gesture would have been wasted, since it's said she's only ever been to the Opera House twice in her reign. This may be because she is actually jealous because the Bedford family's private loo is better than hers, as may be seen below. The Bedfords own the land on which the place is built, and thus get free admission, the jammy buggers, a privilege which apparently they rarely take up either. Even though their toilet is fantastically cool.


All in all, it was a marvellous outing, for which I heartily thank my Sparkly Nephew-in-law! (who, I think, has earned his own epithet on this blog, a fairly rare thing...)
~~~
This is my final post about my UK trip. Now I will turn my face towards the spring which must surely be just around the corner, and look forward.

23 comments:

HLiza said...

Wow..that's a great place to be! And how I giggled to see the toilets..he he..so lucky you got away with the camera!

Rouchswalwe said...

What a fun tour that must have been. Ah, to spend a few hours in such a building where even the water closet is grandiose! Thank you, Lucy, for showing it all to us.

Catalyst said...

Marvelous post, Lucy, with great photos! Thanks for the tour.

Marja-Leena said...

Amazing detail, so lush, even the toilets (though the Queen's' does look a bit like an outhouse seat..). We're off to the opera tomorrow night and I will inevitably compare our modest theatre to London's glory!

tristan said...

no crest on her royal paper then ?

Tall Girl said...

...and these, well, wow!! Wonderful glowing glimpses...

Dave said...

What a fabulous post, in every way. And all my life I've heard about opera queens, but I always thought it meant something else...

Bee said...

Such a funny thing happened! None of the photos appeared -- except for the Queen's toilet! Such is the royal power and privilege, I guess.

Will come back and check again later.

Barrett Bonden said...

They must have had much bigger bums in those days.

Speaking as one who seen a number of operas at Covent Garden may I issue a warning to those who - seduced by your photography - are pondering a visit. Avoid at all costs the seats in the second-level horseshoe (I can't remember how they are designated). Of course I should have been forewarned by their very cheapness (a mere £88 twelve years ago) but from the sides only 60% of the stage is visible. As it happened we were on the favoured side and were able to see the final twenty minutes of action which culminates in Tosca pitching herself off the battlements. Had we been on the other side we'd have been better off listening to radio.

And what about the excruciating lack of knee-room at Wigmore Hall...? but by now I may have outstayed my welcome.

Lucy said...

Thanks all, glad it proved so popular, going into the weekend too; just goes to shoe you can't beat a touch of lavatory humour! The royal bog and other retiring rooms thereby pertaining were in fact located down a rather stuffy and not very fragrant staircase, but I refrained from repeating the jokes we made about the Queen's back passage...

Hliza - tee-hee! I don't know why they were fussy about the cameras, we were quite discreet and didn't use the flash, or the flush!

R - that was no ordinary water closet...

Cat - glad you liked!

ML - yes, it's a funny thing, but those toilets are very much like gorified outhouse ones; I believe similar are to be found in grand country houses up and down the land. It must be the ruling classes penchant for roughing it in the great outdoors... Hope you had a nice time at your opera, probably just as good.

Tristan - heheh, by appointment to the royal bum! No, nothing special with the paper, just bog standard.

TG - thank you, at last no reference to the queen and her loo. I was quite pleased with how clearly they came out, as the light was very low, but the shiny bits showed up well.

Dave - cheers, and for smorging me. I thought the stage photos with the surtitles looked a bit like instant postcard poetry.

Bee - Well, that might have been the most interesting one!

BB - now don't go down the garden to eat worms, remember the garlic crusher? I've never been to a real opera, there or anywhere. In the royal box, there was a mirror strategically placed on the wall for the ladies-in-waiting, who are obliged to sit at the queen's right hand apparently, who thereby got to see the whole performance probably better than the sovereign did, since in fact the view from the royal box is fairly rubbish too. Only problem would be it would all be back to front. We were reminded, however, that for many people the point of going to the opera was not to see but to be seen, so comfort yourself with that. It does seem like a very nice place to work though.

Zhoen said...

Glimpses and corners, my favorite.

Probably the first loos around, and once technology moved on, why change?

Sheila said...

What incredible fun! It's beautiful! Thanks for sharing your excursion with us.

herhimnbryn said...

Lovley glimpses L.

Isabelle said...

Amazing place. I don't think I could manage to use a loo that forbidding looking, though...

Michelle said...

The ceiling and the glowing boxes are splendid. What fun, Lucy!

apprentice said...

Lovely insider's look at the place, thanks Lucy. I'm amazed at everything that you packed into a week. It is as if your suitcase was the Tardis.

Granny J said...

How wonderfully ghostly theaters are once the bright lights are dim! That was a wonderful tour, Lucy.

marly said...

Couldn't resist an exactly midnight visit--and you are up to something interesting, as usual. I loved this outing, and the toilets put our Glimmerglass Opera House to shame.

Yawn.

Shall have to come back and go backward through the trip...

Anonymous said...

Absolutely fascinating, Lucy. I've always fancied a look backstage at the Royal Opera House and this does the trick pro tem. Beautiful pictures, as ever.

Dick said...

Whoops. Anon = Dick

Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh I loved the loo.

Apparently the urinals at Freo Market are wonderful Victorian examples. I sent my sons in there but didn't dare ask them to take photos - who knows what someone might have thought. And I can hardly sneak in myself.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Love your forbidden pictures. I feel very outlaw-ish viewing them.

Bee said...

All of that gilded loveliness is enchanting, but I particularly like the stagehand in the pool of light for some reason!