Operaaaaa (read it with a vibrato)

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to watch The Phantom of The Opera. Knew about it, heard some songs. But I had never really watched it before, and this would be the first time I would be watching an opera (or drama or musical?) in a theater.

So we went down (three of us) hurriedly on a Sunday afternoon to the Marina Bay Sands Shoppes (because that is where the theater is). The performance started exactly five minutes after the stipulated time. We were relieved that we could make it on time as we did not have to invite disapproving gushes from the audience whose sight we blocked as we made our way to the preassigned seats. As any other formal performances, photography and video taking were not allowed (so there won’t be any photos posted here:)). Outside food and drinks too. Well, I thought to myself, understood, since we do not want to disturb the other patrons  by the sound of munching crispy stuff or dirty the premises. However I  knew I was wrong when I saw some people bring in crisps (or popcorn? I can vaguely recall) after the intermission, courtesy of the theater snack stall outside. So, I conclude, the theater is more like a stricter kind of cinema. Nothing bothering me, just an interesting observation.

So the thing that impressed me the most as a newbie in watching this kind of performance is the stage effects, how such bulky items can move, all the mechanisms, something the movie people can do, but the audience was kind of captivated since we were watching all the tricks live. This thing – together with the singing, acting and extravagant costume – makes up a big part of the enjoyment, so I should not describe it any more.

The singing too is unbelievably good. I don’t personally have patience in listening to a dialogue that is sung instead of spoken like normal conversation, but I appreciate it in terms of the melody, the technique, the sweetness of the voice… I heard that this was not the best version of the performance, but wow… listen to that voice, that pitch, that strength that fills up the whole room. It brought  me to a new level of meaning of singing.

As a non-native English speaker I had a hard time trying to figure out what the actors said. I could not  hear the dialogue properly and as a result the story came across as sketchy. I resorted to Google during the intermission to get a better picture. I looked around the room and saw a bunch of little kids sitting down, and I wondered, what the parents were thinking bringing the kids here. Sometimes during the performance the parents would whisper something to the kids to explain things that were going on on stage. I guess more and more parents see the merit of exposing kids early to forms of arts, or even they have not seen the merit, they believe that this practice will pay off somehow in the future.

Last week, I learned an interesting concept in one of the English lectures that I attended. It is called ‘suspension of disbelief’. It is like when watching a performance, we know the actors are just acting, but we let them take the rein of the situation. We, as the audience, just sit there and follow whatever is being presented to us in order to enjoy the story. If we keep thinking that they are just actors doing their work and pretending, much of the enjoyment is gone, and even sitting in a big room with hundred of other people for two and a half hour seems to be a stupid thing to do. Suspending our disbelief is something that we frequently do without realizing it because it comes so intuitively, even kids understand how to view a performance without being taught.

So this is the end of this post. This is Friday and I have to finish up some assignments.

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