Today we attended Welsh National Opera’s Family Concert at St David’s Hall and I can honestly say, we were moved and mesmerised by each and every performance. I feel so passionate about introducing my children to music, performance and theatre as a whole, and the Welsh National Opera seem to have hit the spot with their Family Concerts.
Firstly, there were wonderful activities on offer, dotted about on various levels, from face painting to costumes, musicians and role play, there was so much to do. George and Molly loved taking part in the treasure hunt, looking for theatre props and recording them, then receiving a prize in exchange for getting them all right!
Time flew and when it was nearly show time we found our seats amongst the buzzing crowd. The programme was really useful, with an introduction to the event, a list of the different songs for Act 1 & Act 2, a list of all the wonderful contributors, an insight into opera, information about behind-the-scenes jobs and even some activities for the children!
We were really excited to be able to see Wynne Evans again, as well as see the orchestra creating beautiful music right before our very eyes! I loved the large screen behind the orchestra, so useful to guide the audience alongside the music, with images and storytelling.
The whole set-up offered interactive, exciting, atmospheric and beautiful performances, and the theme for today was ‘animals’. The performance started with a dazzling display, The Big Country by Moross. This was really evoking of country and western vibes, with animation to boot, I felt pulled into the world of a cowboy!
After this we were introduced to Samantha Hay, who sang Der Holle Rache from The Magic Flute. Samantha’s voice was absolutely beautiful, she had amazing facial expressions and her body language was incredibly connected to the various tones and elements of the song, and both children said they recognised the song. I feel this recognition is fantastic for building a solid foundation of love, respect and knowledge for the world of opera.
Act 1 also included Beyond The Sea by Jack Lawrence, Infernal Dance by Stravinsky, a Jungle Book medley performed by several schools and The Pink Panther theme by Henry Mancini. George adored this, he loved the music and Wynne’s hilarious film running alongside it.
The interval flew by and I couldn’t wait for Act 2. From Thunder and Lightning Polka (J Strauss II) from which Molly and I discussed the sounds of thunder and lightning and which instruments made which sounds, to The Flight of the Bumblebee (Rimsky-Korsakov) conducted by three children selected from the audience, we were taken into a world of wondrous animal sounds and emotions.
Molly adored seeing Samantha Hay return to the stage with Anna Harvey to perform Cat Duet, a hilarious and fun performance that left us all giggling and smiling, as well as understanding the sentiment and feeling behind the song.
Swan’s Theme from Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky) was absolutely outstanding. I felt goosebumps spread as we watched the orchestra work together, building layer upon layer of musical melody and heartbreak. It was breathtaking and the film running alongside it helped George and Molly follow the story of the swan.
There was no doubt that the show-stopper was the Jurassic Park main theme, a most moving and emotive piece of music. Even when I hear it during the film I cry, so as the music began and built to that moment, that beautiful and uplifting point in the music, I admit I shed a tear (or two!). It was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced hearing it performed live with a full orchestra. Each musician adding a different element to the song, yet they performed as one, creating a solid piece of music made up on of tiny pieces of music from each musician.
Each piece of music was played to perfection, we were all taken in by each and every performance, and it felt like such a treat to be involved in such a powerful show. All I can say is, what a way to introduce opera to children! Costumes, film clips, fantastic acting and the music was beyond words…
I really implore you to look out for the next Family Concert, because it will change your world forever.
Disclosure: I received family tickets for this performance. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.