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If you haven’t enjoyed an opera before, can I strongly recommend that you give it a go. There’s a real thrill and passion about the performances, an incredible energy and sound from the live orchestra, and just a great experience about trying something new that also turns out to be rather magnificent.

My recent visit to see the Welsh National Opera’s production of Jenůfa at the Bristol Hippodrome was only my second opera and yet I’m already pretty addicted! No, I’d never heard of Jenůfa either and my only knowledge of the plot was thanks to a quick Google on the afternoon of the performance. Still, with an opera loving friend keen to come along too, I was looking forward to a night out away from work.

The Bristol Hippodrome is built for great occasions and the opera fits in so well with its historic and grand designs. With the first few rows of seats removed to fit in the full orchestra – worth the cost of the ticket alone – it was such a pity that the theatre wasn’t even half full for the performance. Clearly opera needs a more effective marketing strategy.

Rhodri Prys Jones (centre) with the impressively large cast of Jenufa at the Bristol Hippodrome (Photo: Clive Barda/ArenaPAL)

It was wonderful to arrive early and watch the orchestra preparing, as they each took their positions and tuned up. And then as the conductor, Tomás Hanus, took to the stage, the lights dimmed and first powerful wave of live music swept over the audience, the magic took hold.

As appears to be the case with a good few operas, the storyline of Jenufa is barely a cheery one, featuring doomed love, betrayal, death and violence, but there’s no denying the drama, passion and energy of the performances. With a translation of the script appearing on a small screen above the stage, the plot is soon portraying the fears and worries of the central character, Jenůfa, played with such beauty and talent by Elizabeth Llewellyn, as she struggles with the fact that she is expecting a child outside of wedlock, with the father to be, the owner of the local mill, more interested in drinking too much, partying and catching the eye of the local ladies.

As the plot progresses, the talents of the performers on stage is given the perfect support by the incredible orchestra and it really is a thrill to feel its power and emotion, all produced within touching distance. It is a privilege to watch the brass, strings, percussion and woodwind, all so skilful with their deft changes of emotion and feeling.

And throughout the performers on stage combine their incredible vocal talents with an ability to tell a story in an unfamiliar language while also showing the feelings, fears and hopes of their characters.

With the performance lasting two and a quarter hours, I was a little concerned as to whether I’d keep my interest going, particularly at the end of an already busy day at work. However, the performance flew along, with two intermissions giving my friend and I a chance to catch up on the plot over an impressively priced glass of wine from the piano bar.

From the huge and impressive cast to the stunning live orchestra and the pure drama of the whole spectacle, this was a wonderful night out at a fantastic theatre. As a relative opera newbie, it’s an experience that is just perfect for escaping from the pressures of life outside of the theatre and watch hugely skilled performers introduce you to their dramatic world. What a treat!

The Welsh National Opera is presenting a series of at the Bristol Hippodrome over the next few days, including Don Giovanni and Madam Butterfly. For more details and to buy tickets, click here