First Opera Experience: Die Fledermaus with WNO at Birmingham Hippodrome

Die Fledermaus is an opera about mistaken identity and a connected group of people who all want to attend a masquerade ball. Birmingham Hippodrome were looking for opera first timers write about about their opera experience.

by Julie Wallis twitter.com/Nicenic63

A night at the Opera with WNO and Birmingham Hippodrome

BrumHour was invited to the opera and I was very eager to visit on their behalf. Having always wanted to go, but never been.

Die Fledermaus
Die Fledermaus

Die Fledermaus is at Birmingham Hippodrome, performed by the Welsh National Opera (WNO) and it was the perfect choice for someone new to the fantastic world of opera.

It was certainly a night of surprises, some of what I thought I knew proved to be wrong. I knew operas could be long, and Die Fledermaus was no exception.

Die Fledermaus
Die Fledermaus

At three hours long, my first thought was “Will I be bored before it finishes?” but it is split into three one hour acts and it was all over way too soon for me!

Right from the get-go I was moved to tears. I cried at the overture, before the curtain had gone up. I hadn’t realised just how emotional it would be to hear (and see) the orchestra playing live. Not sad tears, I’m not even sure they were happy tears, I just cried because it was so beautiful and it moved me to tears.

Die Fledermaus
Die Fledermaus

My husband quoted a line from the film Pretty Woman “People’s reaction to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic. They either love it or hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.” I was also surprised at just how much of the music I did know from Die Fledermaus.

Another important fact I had not realised until last night: opera can be funny. In my mind, I had it pencilled in as being quite serious stories, but Die Fledermaus was laugh out loud funny. It was a farce, with lots of mistaken identities and even some missing trousers by the time we got to the curtain call.

Julie met actor Steve Spiers at Birmingham Hippodrome
Julie met actor Steve Spiers at Birmingham Hippodrome

I loved the story, which was slightly complicated, but with the actors singing in English it was not difficult to understand at all and just to be sure the audience was up to speed the Hippodrome provides surtitles. What are surtitles, you ask? They’re just like subtitles but they are displayed above rather than under the action.

Now, I had taken this opportunity to dress up, I never need an excuse but going to the opera felt very grown up and I did want to push the boat out. The rest of the audience were the usual mix of dressed up and dressed down. I saw gentlemen wearing bow ties, which I appreciated. But I also saw young people in hoodies. I had always thought of a night at the opera as being very glamorous. Had you asked me describe how the typical audience should be dressed I’d have thought of evening gowns, top hats, cloaks and canes. I’m sure the Hippodrome wouldn’t mind if you did wear a top hat and cloak, just so long as you take it off for the performance.

My first night at the opera was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful, and I wasn’t even disappointed that it didn’t end when “a fat lady sings.” I was disappointed that it was over though and do remember saying to my husband when we left “I can’t wait to see the next one” I’m so glad I did love it. It’s like the best ever musical but on steroids!

If you get the chance to see Die Fledermaus I do highly recommend you go. It is a fantastic performance with a very funny ending, lots of laughs throughout and some truly beautiful music. I have now altered my life bucket list, next stop Vienna State Opera.

Die Fledermaus
Die Fledermaus

Welsh National Opera (WNO) is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 4th November and visit regularly throughout the year. Check out: birminghamhippodrome.com/genre/opera and wno.org.uk


This isn’t a sponsored post. Julie was invited on behalf of #BrumHour by Birmingham Hippodrome for WNO and didn’t pay for her tickets or drink or welsh cakes. She’s plotting her next opera visit.

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