La Gioconda

Ages ago, I was wandering around Waterloo when I saw an advert for the Midsummer Opera company, who were going to be performing a couple of operas in the nearby St John’s Church. I made a note of this and booked to see La Gioconda, which I hadn’t seen before.

La Gioconda is an 1876 opera by Amilcare Ponchielli set to a libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on a play by Victor Hugo. It has a complicated plot based around a woman, Gioconda, who is in love with the nobleman Enzo, but puts aside her own feelings in favour of her love rival Laura after she saves her mother’s life.

Stupidly, it didn’t occur to me that the opera would naturally be sung in its original language, Italian, and unlike at the Royal Opera House, there would be no surtitles. Frankly, I had no idea what was going on half the time. Having said that, there was enough to keep me interested. The performers sung beautifully, and I particularly loved the chorus, who were full of energy and vitality. I enjoyed the music and even recognised a couple of the melodies; from where I have no idea.

I do wish I’d known before going in that the opera was going to last four hours (including two intervals), as I was absolutely starving by the time I left. The venue was beautiful, an elegant Georgian building, but I wish those involved in the prepration had managed to find some chairs that didn’t squeak. Still, you can’t have everything.


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