|orchestra stalls --> stalls circle --> grand tier --> balcony --> AMPHITHEATRE WOOHOO!|
I did get to sit all over the place as well. The front row of the amphitheatre, way way up there, had astoundingly good acoustics. Unbelievable. Like the singers were mixed straight out in front on a platter. Crystal clear.
The cheeriness of the crowd when I went to see Figaro was no fluke. The experience was uniformly festive. No stuffiness and everyone always seems really happy: we get to see an opera tonight! What's not to be cheerful about?
And yes, I did use the cloakroom on several occasions and it's true, the ROH cloakroom is an amazement. Free, fast, friendly, efficient -- qualities so foreign to any area of service in the UK that at first it seems like a scam of some sort. But no, just a really pleasant surprise.
For the season I ended up seeing:
Marriage of Figaro
La Fille du Regiment
For me, opera is not just the music. There's acting! And a story. And staging. And even some dancin' -- notably the gypsy dance on the card table in La Traviata, the over-the-top ballet sequence in Faust, and Elektra's insane death-dance were highlights.
For most operas I went in cold -- deliberately knowing nothing about them. I found this heightened enjoyment of the story. For Tosca I listened to the full opera, without knowing the story, a few times before the performance. That seemed to work out well but not strictly necessary.
I really enjoyed them all. Figaro I loved. Wozzeck I liked a lot more than I expected to. Likewise Elektra. Turandot was probably my least favourite, although the staging and spectacle were quite impressive, as were the two leading ladies. But the story was pretty bad, and the leading man had a couple issues. One is that although he did a fine job as far as I could tell (I'm not sure I can tell yet, one way or another), the women were rattling the rafters and pretty much overpowering him. The second issue is Nessun Dorma, which is now known for Pavarotti's renditions. That's a hard act to follow.
But it carried a bit more emotional weight for me because I remember [and I hope this is not a false memory] Gramps really liking Pavarotti. All those years ago I recall not understanding it, and rolling my eyes at The Three Tenors. At the same time Gramps was rolling his eyes at my music, so fair play. But now I get it. While I'd never go see something like a Three Tenors concert, I get it now. Here they are hamming it up, charmingly, in the last minute of O Sole Mio.
Fortunately Dad is still around, and tickled that two more generations have gotten into opera. If Gramps were still with us he'd be mighty pleased as well.