Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House is in the 1000 Things book and the Under £10 book twice (to do a tour and to see a show for under £15), but this post is not about either of those. I shall be doing them at some point. This post however needs one all on it's own.

A month or so before Christmas, the tube was covered with posters for charity Contact the Elderly.

I've been interested in volunteering for ages now and thought this was a fantastic idea. The basic's of the charity is this - either, once a month you drive an elderly person to a tea party, or host a tea party for them twice a year. As I live on the first floor of a block with no lifts, I applied to be a driver. After getting a couple of references done and having a CRB check completed, I was accepted as a driver and had my first tea party at the beginning of February. Awsome stuff. I'll explain more about this lovely charity at the end of this post.

Last Saturday, 23rd March 2013, the charity was given the opportunity for their elderly members to visit the Royal Opera House to watch the matanee performance of Alice's Adventues in Wonderland by the Royal Ballet. And in order for the elderly guests to get there they needed drivers - cue me :) I have always wanted to come here, so when I was asked if I'd drive, easiest answer I've ever given!

So after picking up our assigned members we drove to the Royal Opera House and arrived at 11am. The lovely Sam who works for the Royal Opera House was there to greet us and take us to a function room - the Conservatory Bar - exclusively for us!

The Conservatory Bar is on the 1st floor of this photo.

When we were all settled down in the Conservatory Bar, the equally lovely Victoria who also works for the Royal Opera House came over to tell us a bit more about the day. We also all got given a free programme and an insert that had only been printed a little while before so we could see exactly who was performing.

We then were inundated with posh sandwiches and cups of tea and coffee... my idea of heaven :)

At about 11.45am, we were extremely lucky and had David Pickering who is a soloist and teacher within the Royal Ballet to come and speak with us. Can I just say that David was due to be in the show we were going to be watching at 12.30pm - cutting it fine! He mentioned such things as a general day in the life of a ballet dancer - holy cow they are extremely dedicated and focused (I don't think I have that amount of love for anything) - a bit about the show and then answered any questions. He was very nice and was very good to be able to get that close to one of the dancers!

David Pickering
Another round of sandwich's down and it was time to go to our seats to get ready for the show.

Holy cow.

What amazing seats we had. BEST (and most expensive!) IN THE HOUSE. It was fabulous! Our seats are usually worth about £100 each at the ballet and £200 at the opera...

My Group - Sheila, Harry, Tania, me and Joyce
Now you know when you're at a posh ballet because they have 2 breaks compared to the usual 1 interval. We had extra special breaks though because we were able to go back to our private reserved area and have more tea/coffee and more importantly CAKES. And lots of them!!

Sadly I forgot to take pictures of the cakes but we had macaroons, mini scones with jam and cream and a delicious, and I mean DELICIOUS, walnut cake. I *may* have had about 8 slices. 

But during the 2nd break, the main interval, we were extremely lucky to have Kevin O'Hare to come and have a chat with us. Kevin just happens to be the Director of the Royal Ballet. The Director. Talking to us. Awesome.

Kevin O'Hare
After the 3rd Act the show was finished and I'll be honest, I was a little upset. It was the best ballet I have seen so far (and I'm lucky enough to say I've seen quite a few). It was just so so so good. Amazing in fact. Absolutely amazing.

As the dancers were taking their bows, I saw some people taking photo's so I thought I'd better get in the act too! So below are a few shots of the cast. Are they called the cast still...? I'm thinking ensemble now... Anywhoo...

The whole cast/ensemble
If you look closely at the 7 of diamonds, that's David Pickering
And that was it. Show over. Sigh.

Due to the nature of why we visited, we let all the rest of the audience go so we could let those who had problems with walking take their time, and then made sure everyone was ready to leave - toilet trips and the like. And when we returned back from the loo, everyone had gone and we got to see a little bit of behind the scenes which we, the public, never usually get to see. So I took a sneaky little shot... I never knew just how deep the stages go back.

What an amazing AMAZING day. Everyone had just a brilliant time and that would not have been able to have been done if it wasn't for the people at the Royal Opera House and those involved at Contact the Elderly. All our elderly guests had a truly memorable day out that I'm sure they will remember for a long time to come. I know I certainly will.

Sam and Victoria from the Royal Opera House were incredibly friendly and a big thank you to them for making us all feel so very welcome. I have wanted to come here for a very very long time, and now I'm unsure I'll ever be able to return. How can I possibly top off this experience? Come back to watch a show right at the very top? Not sure if I can do it... only used to the BEST here!

Now, back to the wonderful charity that is Contact the Elderly. As I described at the top of this entry, the premise of this charity is simple - to take a vulnerable or lonely elderly person (or persons if your car is big enough) to a tea party once a month. Or if you aren't a driver, host a tea party once or twice a year. Simple. A few hours of your time once a month can make such a difference to someone's life.

If you happen to want to volunteer for this lovely charity, have a butchers at their website, tell's you all about how you can volunteer. There are groups up and down the country, so no one is allowed to use that as an excuse! They're also on twitter @contact_teas so why not give them a follow?

Big thanks once again to everyone involved in a very very successful day. Here's to the next one!

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