The Vancouver Opera season opened last night with The Westside Story. You're probably thinking, "Really? West side Story as an opera?" I did have those exact same thoughts. I couldn't really figure out how they were going to pull it off.
Well, the way they did it, was to not really have it in the standard or cliché way (fat lady singing?) I have to admit, that I was grateful for this. It would have been upsetting to hear the songs some other way but the way we are familiar with it. Maria and Tony's parts were the only ones that were done in that operatic way, but even on the movie version, it was already that way.
I have to say, though, that seeing it on stage was 10x better. To see it live was to feel its rhythm and its pulse -- it was as close to actually being on the streets with the Sharks and the Jets.My favourite part was the dance hall scene. I loved the transition of Maria longing to go the dance, and pouf, she was at the dance.
Towards, the end of the show, I understood why this piece was chosen to be an opera -- it had a tragic ending.
I look forward to the rest of the season. Coming up right after The West Side Story would be Romeo and Juliet. It should be interesting, as of course, the former, was a "modern" version of this. After this would be, The Barber of Seville and it then closes with a big finish with Aida. It's a great line up for the season (controversial choices) -- they are trying to attract the "younger" set to come to the opera, after all.
[I love their cover design for this production: The "W" of the old Woodward's Building stood for the "W" in Westside. How nice, to personalize it to our city.]