However, when I called to return my ticket, the nice chap at the Royal Opera House was able to find a returned ticket for me for the matinee this Saturday, so I got to go after all.
I don't know a lot about opera - as regular readers will know, I'm generally more about 'straight' theatre, but I am also very fond of 'Coraline', and curious about how it would translate onto stage and music.
When I took my seat, I saw that the curtain not only had Coraline's name across it, but was also showing a projected image of the auditorium and the audience, acting as a huge mirror, but one too dark to be able to tell whether it was a true reflection, or whether what we saw might be, in fact, the Other audience, button eyes an all!
The opera has a small cast of just 6, and the story is also pared down - the cat is gone, and Miss Spink and Miss Forcible's scotty dogs, and Coraline's battle with the beldame simplified, but the bare bones are still there.
Alexander Robin Baker as the Other Father, Kitty Whately as the Other Mother
At the performance I saw, Coraline was sung by Robyn Allegra Parton (the role was shared with Mary Bevan),who did an excellent job as a the brave (but also often sulky and occasionally stroppy) eleven year old, with Kitty Whately and Alexander Robin Baker were both excellent as her parents (and as her Other parents). I particularly enjoyed the poignancy of the Other Father's end, after he tried to help Coraline to escape.
At the interval, the curtain came down again, but this time, we, like Coraline herself, were on the wrong side, and the image was reversed...
|Curtain, half time. We are the Other audience, now|
I personally felt that the Other Mother's world wasn't as creepy and terrifying as it could have been, but it seemed to do the job for the target audience; at the point where the there Mother produces her buttons and needle and thread, there were audible gasps, and more than one squeak of fear, and I heard a little voice from behind me saying (and sounding pretty scared) "Don't be scared Daddy. It's not really real" ........ "is it?" . (It sounded as thought Daddy was able to reassure her that he wasn't too scared, and that she need not be, either, and she seemed to enjoy the rest of the performance)
Over all, I enjoyed it, and I'm very glad I got to see it. I thought it kept the underlying 'flavour' of the original book, although the it took a while to get going in the first act, with rather more exposition that was strictly necessary. But I have to admit that I am still not big on opera - I suspect that I would have enjoyed it more had it been a straight play. However, I can see that it could spark n interest in opera for children, and even for a non-opera fan it was well worth seeing. There were no surtitles, abut that wasn't an issue, the singers were all admirably clear (much more so than in the last opera I saw!
The run at the Barbican has finished now, but I believe that there are plans in the pipeline for translated productions to be performed in Germany, France and Sweden, and I would imagine that it may well be revisited - it sold out completely, and from what I could see, was very warmly received by those of all ages who saw it.