In this post we discuss opera for beginners; why you should give it a try even if you’re not sure you’re ‘that type’ of person and why Aida is a great performance to start with.

It is a common perception that opera is only suited to the ‘right type’ of person. When many imagine opera they think of snobs and aristocrats listening to hours of music with language they more often than not don’t even understand. They may think audience members have to be fully dressed in formal attire and speak ever so poshly, putting on airs and graces and gloating about how cultured they are.

This is why modern opera is struggling. Many articles lately have discussed how the elitist perception of opera is damaging its ability to stay current. As the audience members who ‘fit’ the elite status get older and eventually pass away opera needs to attract younger audiences and they can’t solely rely on the grandchildren of their past members continuing the interest. This is where many opera companies are trying their best to become more inclusive and diverse. From using drone technology to a mobile performance in the street using cars, opera companies across the world are doing everything they can to open their performances up to wider audiences.

South Downs Opera was formed to continue this. We aim to bring opera to the local community of East Sussex, incorporating professional and amateur talents to create truly spectacular shows. From the stage performers to off-stage choir and orchestra, backstage team managing the performance to the designers and makers of props, costumes and scenery, make up artists and hair stylists to the administration team, many of the individuals working on our operas are local to East Sussex and are equally as passionate about the county and its community as the opera. That is because we believe that more people need to give opera a try and we want to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible for them to do so.

As South Downs Opera’s Chairman John Jenkins says: “Following our inaugural and single performance of Tosca in 2012, we wanted to do three performances this time, and we wanted an opera which would be popular and which local people would be keen to see. What better choice then than Verdi’s most famous and spectacular opera Aida?”

From a survey conducted by the Royal Opera House Verdi’s Aida was mentioned several times as a great first experience for opera beginners. One respondent commented that it was due to the show being such a “visual spectacle” which South Downs Opera is certainly planning to create. Imagine the rich gold and blue tones of Ancient Egypt; the costumes and accessories, head dresses, jewellery and staffs bedecked with multi coloured gems; props and scenery creating the visuals of ancient pyramids and Egyptian cities. All in all it is a true feast for the eyes.

Amneris (Iwona Januszajtis)

Principal Dancer, Isis (Natasha Rodia)

Ramfis (Mark Beesley) with Radames (Richard Rowe) kneeling before him

Principal Dancer (Gennaro Lasco)

Now add the story; a classic tale of rival countries warring, the wrong man falling in love with the wrong woman, jealousy, betrayal… we don’t want to give too much of the plot away but if you like the drama of soaps like Eastenders and Corrie you’re sure to find enjoyment in Aida!

Finally, last but most certainly not least, you have the performers; the principal singers, choir, dancers and orchestra. Among those lending their talents to the show you will find a wealth of experience in the performing arts. Even if the style of music isn’t to your everyday taste, there is no denying the effort and talent on display. As a reviewer from our past performance of Tosca said: “It is no exaggeration to say that jaws literally dropped!”

For those concerned by the logistics of attending an opera have no fear; there is no dress code and tickets are £15-£20; a small sum compared to the hundreds you can pay at some opera venues.

All of these elements combined will create a show not to be missed and there is most definitely no need to be an opera ‘fan’ already; we’re quite certain you will be by the time the final curtain drops!

Tickets are completely sold out for the Thursday and Saturday performances but some are still available for opening night on Tuesday 13th October. Book now: