The Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden is world famous for its productions, not only opera but also ballet. Our Northgate and Dereham Sixth Form students have been to three different operas in recent years – ‘Tosca’, ‘Il Travatore’ and ‘Don Giovanni’. At the beginning of April, Miss Brooks and Miss Lynn took a trip with some students to see ‘La Traviata’ by Guiseppe Verdi.

Chris, Year 9, tells us about his experience:

‘We left school at 7:15am on a deluxe minibus. On our way through London, we saw several interesting landmarks, such as the London Eye and the Gherkin. The opera followed the tragic story of Alfredo Gremont and Violetta Valéry. We had seats situated at the very front and we could see the amazing orchestra and enjoyed watching them play, as well as the performance. It was an amazing production, and the sets were incredible! Afterwards we had an opportunity to walk around Covent Gardens and enjoyed exploring the many different market stalls. It was great to go on a trip with all my friends again, after all the covid restrictions. We returned back to school at 7:20pm after a lovely day.’

Nathan, Year 9, wrote a creative response after seeing the opera in the form of a letter to the cast and production team. He said:

‘On Friday 1st April 2022 I was lucky enough to go to the Schools Matinee of La Traviata at the Royal Opera House.

This is the first opera that I have ever been to and the first time that I have ever visited the Royal Opera House. I was lucky enough to be sitting on Row A of the Orchestra Stalls and the whole day was fascinating and really enjoyable. I have definitely become an opera fan.

In the past I have visited theatres many times to see musicals and pantomimes. The Royal Opera House experience was very different and very powerful.

I would like to thank the cast and production team for making this experience accessible to me. The Schools Matinee is a way that I could access an opera in a world class setting that I could not have otherwise experienced.

I think that Verdi would have been proud of this scheme. He probably never foresaw a time in the future when opera performances would be of the quality and cost that they are today. This scheme enables children to see and enjoy his work, performed by top singers and musicians. I think he would have been very proud of this. Also the filming of the performance to enable people to access it at cinemas. He would never have been able to imagine cinemas as they are today. He died in 1901 and cinema was very new, it had only started in 1895. I don’t think he could have imagined our cinemas, imax, online streaming and other technologies. It is only 169 years since Verdi composed La Traviata but it is a completely different world that is moving so fast. Technology that is common today such as mobile phones and the internet would have been unimaginable to him. But it is this technology that is enabling so many people to access his work. In another 150 years how will people enjoy for example Ed Sheeran?

The opera was incredibly powerful and the music so engaging; it was easy to follow the story.

The Opera House is a fabulous building and the musicians and performers were magnificent, but also the costumes and sets were amazing. Everything came together to combine into a once in a lifetime experience.’

A final creative response mentioned:

‘Overall, I personally enjoyed the full view of the orchestra from where I was sitting. I also got a better understanding of the organisation, placement of the instruments and musicians. The music layering of all the instruments combined to make a dramatic piece of music, invoking

different emotions. Educationally, I believe that this was a good trip for all the students as I think that it changes your perspective on how an opera is structured, works with the musicians and the opera singers. I also believe that the music also helps get a better understanding of the story-line and plot.

I believe that if any student gets the opportunity to go to the Royal Opera House, then they should take it, as it is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity for students. The building itself was breath-taking and the actual opera added to the wow factor of the opera house.’

Thank you to Miss Brooks for organising such an inspiring trip for our students.