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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s

Music: Billy Budd and the last stand

It had been a while since I had heard or seen Billy Budd live so this concert version at the Barbican with the LSO seemed like a good idea. And it was. Huge forces, excellent soloists and thrilling and dramatic score made it seem not necessary for all that staging and drama stuff. With such a large orchestra at hand one also felt like you were on the Indomitable as it swelled and subsided... It was all thrilling stuff and quite a treat, even if it started at 7pm which would have to be a rather annoying starting time leaving little time for dinner.

But towards the end of Act two I was preoccupied with the added tension of Ian Bostridge's music stand teetering over the stage. He had been leaning over it, pushing on it, holding it with both hands as the drama dictated, and every time he did, the music stand moved closer and closer to the edge. By the finale, one leg was over the edge. If another went surely that would have made the evenings recording less than satisfactory. The old woman in the front row might have let out a yelp as well. By the Epilogue, Bostrige wasn't even holding the stand and with one and a half legs over the stage I was expecting a crash bang clang any moment. It didn't take long to come. It started to topple like it was in slow motion. There it went. The old woman was probably not watching the stand about to thump her as Bostridge is a bit of a sex symbol for that demographic. What I had not counted upon was Bostridge's quick reflexes. He swooped in and picked the stand up and moved it back to the stage. All was well. Epilogue finished with whimper (as it should). But there was just so much added drama and distraction to the evening...

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