Showing posts from October, 2010

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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

Theatre: Onassis

After catching  Onassis the Play at the Novello theatre  on the weekend, I found I rather enjoyed the smooth and dirty talking central character. On one hand it is a silly play that goes on a bit. On the other hand it is entertaining with some great dialogue and an engaging performance by Robert Lindsay in the title role. And there is also Tom Austen, playing the surly son Alexandro, stripping down to his underwear for a nighttime swim. It all makes for a great night out. Whether it is a  realistic depiction  is probably up for debate. The women in his life - Callas and Jackie O - are more caricatures than real people here. And when things start to get interesting dramatically it is another excuse for some Greek singing. Historical moments fly by as the play moves from being set on his boat to his island. It all seems very glamourous.  There are some great monologues in the play, including one where Onassis talks about how his experience being sodomised as a young man made him

Overheard outside the pub Saturday

Woman (to security): Ooh you have such a big head... And that hat makes you look like a baker...

Overheard at Café Nero Saturday

Woman 1: Aaah know you know her! Woman 2: Well I do and she's like you and me... Woman 1: She is? Woman 2: Yes she's a little bit german a little bit Flemish a little bit Scandinavian Woman 1: And her husband? Woman 2: Well she's divorced you know... Woman 1: Aw such a shame...

Theatre: Theatre of Horror and Grand Guignol

I was really in the mood for watching Theatre of Horror at the Southwark Playhouse Thursday evening. Maybe it was the skin biopsy I had a lunchtime that put me in the mood. There I was, watching chunks of flesh being taken out of me and put into little jars, blood dripping down my leg and feeling the stitches forcing it all back together. At one point the doctor said, "Oh you turned your head at just the right time," as I watched a little slice of me going in a jar. The shows were tame compared to all that, but still in the same vein. The first piece, "The Exclusion Zone" started off incredibly disturbing about a young couple wanting to have some fun in the woods. It was a nice ride until the end song, which was inaudible and hard to understand the connection to the previous twenty minutes. The second piece "The Unimaginable" was a slightly creepy monologue about people who swipe your children. After mentioning parents who go out to the theatre and le

Life in London: Burglary

Crime in London  may be on the decline, but occasionally it does come and remind you its still there.  Over the past weekend someone got into my flat via a suspected unsecured bathroom window and helped themselves to a five year old iPod. I wonder if they will enjoy the over-representation of musical theatre and funky house tracks on it, but who knows. There is also the slight sense of humiliation you feel when burglars have determined the only thing you have worth stealing is a five year old iPod, but that's probably something I can discuss when the victims of crime unit gets in touch. I always believed that you would know when you were burgled as you would come home and see clothes thrown around, drawers left open, things upended. That is also a bit like what my flatmate's room looks like on a good day but I digress. But returning home on Monday evening I at first did not see anything out of the unusual. Except for the toiletries bag with my electric shaver open on the bed.

Music: Caroline O'Connor

Continuing a season of performers in their prime that have seen Wonder Woman and others grace the West End, it could also be known as "Old broads at the Garrick", I caught the second night of Caroline O'Connor with Johnnyfox and others. Caroline O'Connor, while being world famous in Australia, has also been in a number of West End productions, including the ENO's production of On the Town and Bombshells. This time around it is her on stage with a terrific band and some real nice young dancers. Its a bit cabaret and a bit performance and all brass  class. I realised it has now been ten years since I first saw Caroline O'Connor and she doesn't seem to have changed much at all... She still looks and moves pretty well and still sounds good (if you overlook those occasionally suspect high notes), and is full of such energy and life you can't help but enjoy watching her perform. In the first half of her show she talked about life growing up in Australi

Opera: Niobe, Regina di Tebe

A three hour baroque opera on a Saturday night is probably not going to be everyone's cup of tea. I am not a fan of the baroque period of music with all those intricate melodies that go on and on and on... And then repeat... So bearing in mind these narrow-minded preconceived notions, it is somewhat surprising to find how enjoyable it is to sit through  Niobe, Regina di Tebe . There is some fine singing by Véronique Gens in the title role and male soprano Jacek Laszczkowski as the King of Thebes. And it is quite a surprise to hear him sing too. I also enjoyed the slightly comic / malevolent performance by Alastair Miles, who wore a most intriguing costume and gave the production relief and drama. Actually there was enough drama and intrigue in the opera to keep anyone alert and attentive. In the orchestra pit was the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble and they sounded great and even by Royal Opera's usual standards of production design (although  Don Pasquale  might be an exception