Insights Event at Royal Opera House – Parsifal

At the recent Vintage Afternoon Tea in aid of Penny Brohn Cancer Centre I was fortunate enough to receive through their ‘balloon’ prizes, two tickets to an Insights event at the Royal Opera House.


I’ll confess that although I’ve been lucky enough to have been to the Opera House to see a number of opera and ballet performances, I’d never heard of ‘Insights Events‘.  I didn’t really know what these were, nor what to expect from the evening.  However whenever I’ve been brave enough to mention them to anyone ‘in the know’ there has been a sharp intake of breath, comments about the tickets being like gold-dust and much excitement.  I knew then that I’d be in for a treat.  Now I know that perhaps these events are kept a little hidden so that only those special people can get to go!  I’ll be back for more, if I can get tickets.

So what is an Insights Event?  In essence it’s a lecture about an upcoming performance.  Gosh that sentence makes it sound so dull and you’ve probably switched off.  It’s true it’s a lecture but what it is in addition, is an event that brings the music, story, stage and history to life.  Much like an opera, we were drawn in and left longing for more.

This evening was presented by Sara Mohr-Pietsch and following a brief but excited introduction, Antonio Pappano (Conductor) and Mark Packwood (Chief Répétiteur and, for this evening, pianist) stepped onto the stage of the Linbury Studio.

Antonio passionately talked about Wagner, a little of where he was and what he intended in writing this opera.  They played excerpts of the music.  Joined for parts by Gerald Finley and Simon O’Neill who play Amfortas and Parsifal respectively.  Antonio translated key phrases.  Unwrapped the storyline.  Drew us into the story and music.  We were, literally, on the edge of our seats and wishing he’d continue and we could see the whole performance right now!  What an incredibly inspirational conductor.

Of course he ran over on time but I’m quite sure that the audience would have kept him there all night!

Following his musical insight, we were then introduced to Sarah Lenton, a lecturer and historian.  Sarah spent her time talking about Wagner, the time the opera was written, the accuracies and also inaccuracies of the story.  Comparisons from Parsifal story to religious stories.  How it can be a spiritual piece that refers to the crucifixion and indeed Wagner said he had written it on Good Friday (his wife’s diaries tell us otherwise!).  Fascinating.

The final piece of the evening was presented by Stephen Langridge (Director) and Alison Chitty (Designs).  In discussion with Sara, they told us of the inspiration and development of the set design, costumes and lighting.  Incredible to think that the process has taken nearly 2 years in the making from the first ideas about how the performance should be set.  We were also treated to a short series of photographs of their ‘workings’ of the set as it evolved.

A brilliant evening and one that I shall repeat, if I can purchase a gold-dust ticket!  However I’m feeling a little lost in that I now want to see the production but the few remaining tickets are, sadly, rather more than my budget can stretch to at the moment.

I would heartily recommend attending these Insights Events.  An incredible way to understanding more about the composer, the opera/ballet, the music, the movements, costumes, voices… the compiling and production of the performance the lucky audience are fortunate enough to see it.

IMG_4157Oh and if you arrive a little early for any production, do pop up to the bar… incredible space!

2 thoughts on “Insights Event at Royal Opera House – Parsifal

  1. Dear Anna, I manage the Insights Programme and thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the event.

    • I love the Insights Programme and can often be found in the studio enjoying the events…. in fact we’ll be there this week for the Big Sing!
      Keep up the programme – they’re always so informative, fun and enjoyable.

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