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My Opera Experience of Paradis Files

By Harriet Smith

I recently attended my first opera at The Stables Theatre Wavendon. It was called The Paradis Files and was created by a theatre company called Graeae who are based in London. Graeae's mission is to put deaf and disabled actors in centre stage, enabling them to thrive and achieve their full potential, challenging misconceptions. The theatre company's director, Jenny Sealey, is herself deaf.

The opera is set in 18th-century Vienna and the main character Marie Paradis is a blind pianist and composer, where she is a star in Europe. However, those closest to her want to try and cure her of her blindness. The opera integrated BSL, captioning and audio description throughout the whole performance, which is common place in all their productions. Although it was a good performance, I personally found it difficult to follow the story because the audio description was sung and mixed in with the dialogue. Also, the voices of the two main characters sounded very similar when they sang which didn't help matters. I enjoyed the music though which was performed by a wonderful orchestra who all introduced themselves at the beginning of the show and said a little about the instruments they were going to be playing which I thought was a lovely touch.

Overall, Paradis Files was a great introduction to the world of opera for me and I would highly recommend that visually impaired people look out for any further productions from the Graeae Theatre company that may be in their area in the future.