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Opera For Beginners: Get Into Opera The Easy Way!

Opera For Beginners: Get Into Opera The Easy Way!

& Opera Singers For Hire!

Like the sound of opera but afraid to go? This beginners guide is here to help you take your first steps into opera the easy way!

Like the sound of opera but afraid to go? Enjoy film scores and some classical music but don't know where to start with the sung stuff? Considering hiring opera singers to provide your wedding entertainment? This beginners guide is here to help you take your first steps into opera the easy way!

First of all, let's clear something up. Opera is not a stuffy, elitist art form that requires you to know music theory backwards or dress up like a penguin. Most opera was written with one purpose in mind - making loads of money at the box office. Just like West End or Broadway shows, opera can be big, brash, and bold, or more thoughtful and intimate, but ultimately it's designed to entertain you. There's a reason why Eastenders is called a 'soap opera'….

And just like any West End musical, opera is best seen live. Opera isn't just music, it's full-on drama, pure theatre, with the excitement of an orchestra and the thrill of superb voices that you can quite literally sometimes feel as well as hear. And you can wear what you like when you go to see it!

Where To See Opera

You don't need to dive in and pay large amounts for expensive tickets at a major venue for your first opera experience. Most UK opera companies tour around the country to bigger theatres, and you can hear superb opera for a lot less cash. Opera is also very popular for festivals, events and corporate entertainment, so you might come across classical singers performing opera highlights (aka the best bits!) in unusual spaces, from churches to parks or hotels.

Which Opera To Try First

Here's our personal top five to try out first:

la Traviata – Verdi

Quick Plot: Professional tart with a heart meets high society boy, girl loses boy due to his Dad interfering, girl gets sick, boy comes back, girl dies. This is the ultimate soap opera opera, full of big emotions, impossible dilemmas and some of the most gorgeous, heart-wrenching, life-affirming music you'll hear.

Famous bits: the Brindisi or Drinking Song "Libiamo" - we drink to the pleasures of life.

Sung by opera singer pinup Anna Netrebko and sometimes talent show judge Rolando Villazón

La bohème - Puccini

Quick Plot: Out of work poet Rodolfo meets self-employed girl Mimi, they go out, she leaves him for security of rich older man, he larks about with his flatmates, she comes back very ill and promptly dies in his arms. The ultimate operatic love story that's actually about surviving in hard times with little cash, so it's as relevant today as when it was first written in the early 1900s.

Famous bits: "Quando m'en vo" - Rodolfo's flatmates include painter Marcello and his on/off girlfriend Musetta, who is not above making a massive scene in the local café when she doesn't get what she wants.

Quando M'en Vo - Big scene, traditional style production from New York's Metropolitan Opera

Tosca – Puccini

Quick Plot: The opera about an opera singer Tosca, who has to make a sort of sexual Sophie's Choice when her lover is arrested and tortured by evil police chief Scarpia. Instead of sleeping with Scarpia, she stabs him, but when cornered on top of a tower in Rome, she leaps to her death rather than be captured. Great music, an edgy storyline and shorter than the average opera too!

Famous bits: Two big showstoppers, one for him, one for her. (Fair enough!) His is a big romantic farewell to the women he loves as the dawn rises on the day of his execution. "E lucevan le stelle". Hers is a big "Why me God?" number, "Vissi d'arte".

E lucevan le stelle - the great tenor Placido Domingo sings in the actual location in Rome

Vissi d'arte - top soprano Angela Gheorghiu in fine form

Examples of Opera Singers available to hire from Alive Network

  • Sara Llewellyn Classical & Opera Singer Hertfordshire

    Sara Llewellyn

    5 stars - Sara Llewellyn are Highly Recommended 16 Classical & Opera Singers Hertfordshire

    Soprano Sara Llewelyn performs a repertoire of opera, classical & modern popular arrangements. Available for weddings, corporate & private events, Sara can perform with quality backing tracks or alongside a selection of talented musicians.
    Price from £331

  • Duette Classical & Opera Singer West Midlands

    Duette

    5 stars - Duette are Highly Recommended 10 Classical & Opera Singers West Midlands

    Classical Crossover duet. Highlights include debut no. 1 single in the official iTunes Classical chart, supporting Ennio Morricone at the O2 Arena and the DW Stadium. 2 albums recorded with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
    Price from £673

  • Tenori (3 Tenors) Classical & Opera Singer London

    Tenori

    5 stars - Tenori (3 Tenors) are Highly Recommended 5 Classical & Opera Singers London

    TENORI are one of Europe’s most successful 3 Tenors ensembles providing the finest opera and crossover Tenors from both the UK and abroad. A mix of real operatic tenors and West End Stars performing on Europe’s biggest stages.
    Price from £3,847

  • Incognito Artists Singing Waiter London

    Incognito Artists

    5 stars - Incognito Artists are Highly Recommended 1 Singing Waiters London

    Incognito Artists are the ‘Master Chefs’ of the entertainment world. We combine the most exquisite ingredients; extraordinary staff, creative genius, hand-picked crème de la crème West End, Broadway and opera stars and most importantly, YOU. Then, masterfully, we blend these together; devising, creating then serving a sumptuous, mouth-watering feast of unrivalled entertainment.
    Price from £5,065

  • Hayley Louise Classical & Opera Singer Surrey

    Hayley Louise

    5 stars - Hayley Louise are Highly Recommended 7 Classical & Opera Singers Surrey

    Hayley's classically trained pure, crystalline voice will enchant your guests & make your special event that bit more magical with a beautiful repertoire of light classical, musical theatre, jazz & gentle ballads.
    Price from £487

  • The Italian Singer Classical & Opera Singer Essex

    The Italian Singer

    5 stars - The Italian Singer are Highly Recommended 1 Classical & Opera Singers Essex

    The Italian Singer is a modern, versatile & professional vocalist experienced both in the UK and internationally, performing style includes romantic italian songs, opera, ballads, classical / pop, jazz, music theatre.
    Price from £POA

  • Alta Voce Classical & Opera Singer West Sussex

    Alta Voce

    5 stars - Alta Voce are Highly Recommended 10 Classical & Opera Singers West Sussex

    An amazing Soprano singer guaranteed to impress! A true professional having performed in many Opera's across Europe, Alta Voce doesn’t just perform traditional classical arias; she can also sing favourite show tunes, love songs & cross over music!
    Price from £410

  • The Soprano Singer Classical & Opera Singer London

    The Soprano Singer

    5 stars - The Soprano Singer are Highly Recommended 6 Classical & Opera Singers London

    The Soprano Singer is an international Soprano passionate about performing beautiful music. Her professional expertise will turn your event into a sublime experience as she serenades you with music to suit your needs.
    Price from £449

  • Diva Rossa Classical & Opera Singer London

    Diva Rossa

    5 stars - Diva Rossa are Highly Recommended 7 Classical & Opera Singers London

    Diva Rossa are a stunning soprano and mezzo soprano vocal duo presenting well-loved operatic, classical, jazz and musical theatre duets and solos. Previous performances have included those for the BBC, major Hollywood films, HRH The Queen and more!
    Price from £641

  • Double Divas Classical & Opera Singer South Yorkshire

    Double Divas

    5 stars - Double Divas are Highly Recommended 1 Classical & Opera Singers South Yorkshire

    No event would be complete without 2 of Britain's most talented and versatile classical soprano performers. Highly professional and covering an excellent variety of shows, here are the Double Divas!
    Price from £898

Barber of Seville - Rossini

Quick Plot: Rebellious teenager Rosina fancies a young student but her elderly guardian fancies her himself so won't let her out. Cue fixer Figaro, who dreams up ingenious schemes to get the young pair together. Oh, and he's not a student but a rich Lord, so that's a definite incentive to succeed! A fizzy, fun comedy that zips along at a cracking pace, and thanks to Rossini's trademark style of fast singing writing, more notes than the Bank of England.

Famous bits: The big number for Rosina is "Una voce poco fa'; if she can't marry her student, she'll make life hell for everyone!

Una voce poco fa - with Italian star mezzosoprano Cecelia Bartoli

The Marriage of Figaro –Mozart

Quick Plot: Think Downton Abbey with wigs! His Lordship fancies his wife’s maid, but she is also his wife's best mate and about to marry valet. Spanner in the works is the teenage pageboy who goes transvestite, and at the point where maid’s fiancé is almost sold to an old bag, everything is resolved by a Jeremy Kyle style biological father shock revelation. It’s the classic comedy of upstairs downstairs, 24 hours of confusion, overhearing, hiding, plotting and general confusion, in which the only person who has a grasp on it all is maid Susanna.

Famous Bits: Where to start! Almost everyone gets a big number (aria), but perhaps the best flavour of the fun comes from the ensembles. "Cosa sento" is where the errant pageboy tries to hide from the boss and the slimy music teacher, with disastrous results.

Cosa sento - with Brit singer (Sir) Thomas Allen as randy boss Count Almaviva.

I'm A Convert - Can I Book Opera Singers For My Own Event?

Of course! Most opera singers or groups will perform at least some of the examples listed above, usually with piano accompaniment, for private parties, events, conferences, you name it. It's best to book such singers through an established entertainment agency, who can advise you on the requirements for staging an operatic evening, or what's required for 'surprise' opera singers for a dinner or similar. Opera singers listed with such agencies are experienced in performing in different spaces and venues, so sound great, and still give you that genuine opera tingle factor when they sing!

Written by Kirsty Young of Southern Funeral Singers - Adding something special to any funeral, helping celebrate a special life with beautiful music sung live.

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