If you’ve never been to the opera or watched a ballet on stage, then here is a perfect crash course in being cultured. This autumn, the Russian State Ballet and Opera return to Swansea Grand Theatre with four classic works of drama and passion. Their season starts with a double bill from the grand master of late romantic Italian opera, Puccini. When most people hear the word ‘opera’ it is the perfect, porcelain face of Ciocio-san from Madama Butterfly that comes to mind. The tragic story was retold in Miss Saigon making it a great first operatic step for all you musical lovers out there. In Tosca the melodrama gets raised another notch. Set in early 1800s Rome the political intrigue runs as high as the passion. The music is incredible but to keep up with the plot most opera buffs read a synopsis of the story beforehand. So, when in Rome…
Italy for the opera but for their ballet programme this company don’t have to look beyond their own shores. Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet are deserved classics. The storytelling is equally brilliant in both – you’ll wonder why playwrights need all those words. The music is very different. Tchaikovsky is the king of catchy ballet tunes. There are so many memorable melodies in The Nutcracker if you haven’t seen it before you’ll think you have. (And you’ll leave the theatre with that warm Christmassy glow only ballet can bring.) Prokofiev is all about the drama. Shakespeare set to the theme from The Apprentice. If you’re after a good date night then nothing gets things going like a lot of love, a little death and a thirty-strong orchestra.
What’s more, the Russian State Ballet and Orchestra are known for reliably strong productions with traditional settings. You won’t be left scratching your head about Romeo being played as an American soldier or why the chorus were all dressed as businessmen. So, no excuse. Go get cultured.
Russian State Ballet and Opera House, Swansea Grand Theatre, Wed 11, Thu 12 + Tue 31 Oct, Wed 1 Nov. Tickets: £24.50-£31.50. Info: 017 9247 5715 / www.swanseagrand.co.uk
words JOHN-PAUL DAVIES