L’arlesiana at Opera Holland Park

For our July’s Cog night we headed off to see the dress rehearsal of L’arlesiana at Opera Holland Park. Emily gives her take on the evening’s entertainment.


I can’t believe this is my second opera in a year (and my second in my lifetime). My first was in Venice to see Giuseppe’s, Verdi’s La Traviata and now I’m off to L’arlesiana. I was very interested to see how the experiences would compare. 

Travelling to west London on a hot Central line train is always an experience I try to avoid (it’s more humid than summer in Venice which is saying something). But once off, we picked up a couple of refreshing gins and took a walk through Holland Park which was lovely. It was the perfect way to start our evening as we walked into a clearing full of flowers in bloom.

The gardens in Holland Park

As we arrived at the Opera Holland Park canopy, their team were waiting to direct us to the box office, bars and pristine toilets (it’s not often a bathroom gets mentioned in a review).

Waiting in the outside lobby talk turned to the plot of L’arlesiana and the themes of jealousy, love and tragedy that we’d read about before coming. With an announcement made, to take our seats, we positioned ourselves in the middle of the auditorium. Already on stage was a large stone farmhouse with the City of London Sinfonia Orchestra (conducted by Dane Lam) nestled below.

As the lights dimmed the show began.

Jack, Anna and freelancer Paul couldn’t wait for the show to start

Watching the first two acts we were introduced to the protagonist Federico who had fallen in love with a women who was not all she seemed. As the opera continued and the plot thickened we were left anticipating a wedding which we expected to be a happy occasion.

After a quick break the final act started. The set had been changed and now had fairy lights illuminating the stage. 

The climax of the final act, for me, was the heartbreak of Federico’s mother, Rosa Mamai. Although in distress her song suggested a glimmer of hope that everything would be ok – of course this being opera, things never end the way we want. 

The stage was set for L’arlesiana

Opera Holland’s production of L’arlesiana was captivating. The use of digital screens to show the translations made it so easy to follow and the facilities available to us made the whole experience very enjoyable. 

We were lucky to be invited to this rehearsal – thanks to their team. I’m sure we’ll be back to see other performances in the season; it’s certainly much easier to get to than Venice.

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