Out of the ordinary opera

It’s an unlikely marriage between popcorn and theatre, but somehow it works. Julia McDonald attends Vue’s gala screening of Tosca and discovers a new way of enjoying London’s most impressive operas and ballets, performed live from the Royal Opera House.

Hector Berlioz's Les Troyens is one of 8 Royal Opera House performances you can catch in Vue cinemas this season

For most, an evening at the opera or the ballet conjures up images of red velvet chairs, sweeping balconies and sparkling chandeliers. However, last night BRITAIN welcomed the 2012/2013 season of Vue’s classical screenings from the comfort of surprisingly spacious cinema seats, while happily enjoying bags of popcorn. It was Tosca as we’d never seen it.

And although last night’s performance was a recording from last year, the shows you’ll be able to watch this season will all be streamed live from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. This year’s line-up features six operas and two ballets with classic favourites including La Bohème, Gloriana and Eugene Onegin for opera and The Nutcracker and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for ballet.

As for the experience itself, the cinema manages to capture more of the anticipation and excitement of a live performance than we ever would have expected. As explains Lauren Cuthbertson, principal dancer for the Royal Ballet and the lead in March’s screening of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “It’s all about bringing the spine-tingling excitement of live theatre to the cinema. There’s a certain buzz, and really, anything could happen.”

Another benefit of a cinema performance is the level of detail that you’re suddenly able to enjoy. Even if you have reasonably good seats in the theatre, the physical distance of the stage means there will probably be nuances and subtleties you won’t catch. On the other hand, in the cinema you’re given one close-up after another, and catching the beads of sweat in an instant of passion, a stray tear in a moment of despair or a subtle smirk from a plotting villain is surprisingly unusual, and really quite special.

And the good news keeps coming. Vue has increased the number of its cinemas which will screen each performance so you’ll now be able to visit the opera at one of 35 different locations. So whether London is a bit too far to travel in an evening, you’ve missed out on tickets to your favourite ballet, or your wallet’s feeling lighter than usual, it’s just become a whole lot easier to experience the Royal Opera House’s most spectacular performances.

The Royal Opera House will be screening the following performances live to 35 Vue cinemas:

Les Troyens Sunday 18 November 2012
The Nutcracker Thursday 13 December 2012
La Bohème Tuesday 15 January 2013
Eugene Onegin Wednesday 20 February 2013
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Thursday 28 March 2013
Nabucco Monday 29 April 2013
La Donna del Lago Monday 27 May 2013
Gloriana Monday 24 June 2013

For more information and to book tickets click here.