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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

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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

Damp June Nights: Liza at the (Hampton Court) Palace

As more than one person noted after Thursday evening's downpour, there was not a dry seat in the house at the end of Liza Minnelli's concert at Hampton Court Palace. Opening the Hampton Court Festival, the steady rain or hour long wait for the train home did not deter fans from jumping to their feet even before she sang.

Minnelli being from the old school of singing yourself hoarse does not have much of a high register anymore. While she seems like she sometimes tries to coax some sound out using sheer bloody mindedness, her signature songs don't sound like they used to. Of course her fans probably can't hear like they used to either so that might explained the high ovation quotient from the audience... But it is a shame that she either feels she has to sing them or her fans demand them from her. What is more interesting about her voice now is her incredible lower range. And when she calmed things down and performed songs just with her regular music director Billy Stritch on piano it was sublime. The above clip illegally recorded at the concert and posted onto youtube (Liza's fans seemed to ignore the no cameras no recording announcements) shows it is the moody and interpretive Liza rather than the brassy Liza that won the audience over...

The festival runs through to 24 June with various artists. It is a civilised place to bring a picnic, particularly since the food options are surprisingly very limited. Of course if you plan to arrive before seven you can clean out Waterloo Station's Marks and Spencer of peppers stuffed with goats cheese and mozzarella balls before the evening's commuters do. Dress warmly and bring your rain jacket with a hood. Anything outdoors in London this month will need it...

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