I am at the opera!

Tonight I’ll be writing about my experiences at the Vancouver Opera’s production of Rigoletto. Check out this post on the Opera Blog for my partners in crime + Miranda, who is here as my date in hot blue tights.

This area of downtown is busier than I’ve seen it before. Not only is tonight the premiere of Rigoletto, there’s a hockey game on – Vancouver is playing San Jose next door. People are decked out in a variety of fanciness and jerseys – it’s pretty funny to watch people going by (this might just be me; I tend to find everything funny).

Tom Wright, the Director of Artistic Planning, just gave us a tour of back stage and the stage itself. The behind-the-scene stuff is really cool, but being ON the stage is just awesome – looking out over that sea of (imaginary) faces and pretending I have some sort of talent to share is a very cool perspective. I took a lot of pictures that I’ll upload as soon as I can (hopefully after the performance) so you can see what we saw.

The show is starting in 45 minutes, and people are starting to file into the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. It feels a little more fancy than the last time we were here – I don’t know if it’s because today is Saturday as opposed to the Tuesday we saw Carmen, but the air in here seems a little more .. formal? Like people had more time to fancy themselves up before going out for a special evening, instead of coming directly from work. It’s not all formal, though – a young man with some epic dreadlocks just walked by, and I am in envy of his hair. There’s also a lady with THE MOST AWESOME HAT I’VE EVER SEEN – it’s black and feathery and she’s wearing a tulle skirt. I want to be her when I grow up – she’s dazzling! I love it! So much fun!

People are very curious as to what we’re doing – we were just asked “how can you blog the opera if it hasn’t started yet?” Personally, I’m grooving on the anticipation (and coveting that lady’s hat) – but we got a fantastic tour and have some top secret insider knowledge, so there’s definitely a lot going on.

Apparently Ling does a “Fashions of the Opera” segment, which I am dying to see. A couple in full on ballroom regalia just walked by; a tuxedo and a dress the likes of which I have only ever seen on the covers of Harlequin romance novels. Every time I look up, I see something incredible walking by – like the supermodel (different from a supermodem, fyi) in the strapless silver tube dress, and the adorable old Chinese man in the piano key tie. I wish I could just watch people, but I can’t touch type on my SqueePC so you’re just getting the occasional glimpse of the awesome.

“None of you are drinking wine – how can you properly blog the opera experience?” Good question, although our offer to allow him to buy us all wine was turned down. A shame!

Fifteen minutes until curtain – we’ll be taking our seats soon, and watching the opening night performance of Rigoletto moments after that. Stay tuned for our thoughts on the first act during the intermission!

The first act is over, and we’re in the only intermission of the show. There’s a brief pause between acts 2 and 3, but not a true break so this is our only chance to update during the show.

Rigoletto is amazing. Eglise Gutierrez is playing Gilda, and she’s incredible – she can do things with her voice that I’ve only heard in passing commentary about the opera. It’s a total trip to see and hear and to note that she’s doing it without the aid of any amplification.

We were just asked by a patron what we thought of the set design – our general consensus is that we love it; the set is a large cage with gates that move and can be opened to allow the cast through at various times in the show. There’s also a section below the main stage that is used to indicate dark, shadowy areas like an alley or docks – crime happens there! Bad crime!

The first act was brilliant. I know it’s because of the jester/clown theme, but there’s a very Cirque du Soleil feel to it – the was a guy on stilts! Given the fact that the stage is slanted, the fact that the guy on stilts was dancing around is kind of blowing my mind. I can barely walk in 2” heels on a flat surface, and here’s a guy up 6′ in the air dancing around more gracefully than anything I’ve done naked in my living room. It’s not FAIR. There’s also a trapeze with a slinky girl doing some tricky poses in the background. Honestly, I could just watch the actors in their costumes interact with the set all evening let alone take in the feats of singing going on at the same time.

Also, there are opera floozies. The floozies were sad; Count Monterone was attempting to stop their orgy. It’s no wonder people were up in arms wanting revenge in capes – you don’t stop someone else’s orgy. It’s just not done.

Once again, the bloggers are a spectacle unto themselves. We’re trying to be polite and answer questions, but at the same time, I want to get as many thoughts down as I can before we go back to our seats. It’s always gratifying to see the curiosity about our work, though. Social Media for the win!

OH OH a tiny little girl in a deep green dress just walked by – so cute!

A gentleman with binoculars asked us to mention that the sound on the second floor was not good – terrible, in his words. We’re all sitting in Orchestra Right, and it sounds very good from where we were are. I hope things are better for him in act 2, which is starting very soon! I’ll be back after the performance with an update for acts 2 and 3.


I got my wish, but only at the curtain call. I think every opera needs a guy on stilts – hell, I want my very own personal guy on stilts. He could get things off of shelves for me.

We’re all done for the evening, but there’s a back stage party – and seeing as we are minor (really, really really minor) VIPs, we get to go too. Yay for parties! My pictures are up on Flickr, but untagged – I will remedy that tomorrow, but until then – I have a pair of awesome opera pants to ogle.

8 thoughts on “rigoletto!

  1. Hello,

    I was there at the premiere of Rigoletto last night at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. The best: Soprano Eglise Gutierrez. The worst: The horrible stage design (An horrible wrestling cage/tennis court that they adapted for all scenes”.)

    Soprano Eglise Gutierrez stole the show. She was fantastic!!! What a great voice and what a great control and vocal technique!!

    Tenor Bruce Sledge did a great job in general. “Questa o quella” was beautiful. but he had problems at the end of “La donna e mobile”.

    Baritone Donnie Ray Albert had some really great moments but he also cracked twice on the high note at the end of his aria “Pari siamo” (in the words “Ah no, e follia”). And the the end of one of the scenes his voice was not in place as an ominous rattle was infecting the note he was holding.

    Big BOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! to -what’s her name…?- Bretta Gerecke, the Scenic Designer. There was an HORRIBLE cage on stage. A cheap and disgusting combination of a wrestling cage and a tennis court they adapted for all scenes. At some point they put Gilda in another smaller cage within the bigger cage!

  2. Yay for Eglise and yay for the production as a whole!

    Go see it for the singing but stay for the production concept.

    Eglise Gutierrez is a rising star. Her website says she’s singing this same role next year at Royal Opera House Covent Garden next year. We’ll be able to say we saw her first.

    Donnie Ray is THE MAN. Best Rigoletto I’ve ever seen. Scary, heartbreaking, fabulous voice, and good actor.

    Glynis Leyshon and Bretta Gerecke get TWO THUMBS UP from me for production design! I need another boring old Mantua like I need a whole in the head. Yay to them for spicing it up with the whole nekkid-chicks-in-a-cage-match-circus set up. It grew on me as the night went on, and it absolutely starkly gorgeous in the final amazing climax.

    This is not your grandma’s opera. Leave her at home. Bring a hot date.

  3. Glad you enjoyed my stilt walking… I certainly enjoyed being a part of it. Any time you need something off the top shelf I’m available for hire… equity rates apply ;-)

  4. Pingback: Whew! Opening night has passed. | Sheila Christie - soprano

  5. @ patrick – LOVE your comment! you GET what we’re trying to do and i’m happy you enjoyed the production. perhaps we’ll see you at salome.

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  7. Pingback: Rigoletto: Blogger Night Reviews | Vancouver Opera Blog

  8. Pingback: think you know opera? - girllightning

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