4 October 2011 at 10.34am | Comment on this article
As an excited eight year old boy struggled to hold the weight of a real and comically oversized (deactivated) rifle, the Thurrock Community Chorus members filed onto the glass balcony to perform to a waiting audience of families who had never been to the Royal Opera House before. The ensemble then launched into a few short pieces with energy and enthusiasm including the 'Anvil Chorus' from Il Trovatore to an extremely warm reception from the crowd. Thus began the first Welcome Performance of the season.
It was certainly a day of exciting contrasts. The event for families on Saturday not only brought together a broad range of backstage departments to give the new audience an insight into the time, work and energy that is invested in putting a professional performance on stage, but also brought together The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera companies for a very rare combination of short productions - 'Rubies' from Balanchine’s Jewels, and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.
Aside from the music and movement workshops in the ballet studios and the free backstage tours available for ticket holders, there was also the chance to see the Royal Ballet dancers warming up in their morning class – from stretching at the barre to full-on leaps and lifts.
Away from the studios, the thrilled audience - most of whom were bringing young children for their first experience of a big theatre - had the opportunity to see real rubies courtesy of Van Cleef and Arpels, delicately displayed on the model of the stage set for the ballet. They also had the chance to dress up in a dazzling array of opera and ballet costumes, try their hand at playing the violin, get creative in the design workshop, listen to the story of the opera on comfy beanbags and even talk to professionals about how they might get a job here one day!
It was a day full of wonder, excitement and memorable experiences, topped off with a fantastic double-show by our resident professional companies. Thanks to the generous support of Gregory and Regina Annenberg Weingarten through The Annenberg Foundation, there were many, many smiles
Winkball reporters were on hand to capture your thoughts on the day - click each thumbnail below to play.