Showing posts from January, 2014

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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

Phytophilia and other tortures: Fiji Land @swkplay

Torture, boredom and having strange things done to plants are explored in Fiji Land, a thought-provoking piece currently playing at the little space within Southwark Playhouse for a short season. The title comes from the testimony from a Professor Ali Shalal, who became a symbol for the torture at Abu Ghraib after catching the interest of the New York Times and it mistakenly attributing him as the man hooked up to wires and a black hood. His testimony describes a part of the prison in open space and made up of five sectors, surrounded by walls and barb wire as Fiji Land, where anything could happen. The play is a short piece about what happens when cell doors are closed and nobody else is watching. You walk into the little space within the Southwark Playhouse to be greeted with what looks like a cross between a cold storage facility and an indoor plant growing facility. Unsure about what the next eighty minutes had in store for us, @Johnnyfoxlondon and I opted for seats towa

Opera: Carmen pleasures

The tale of a cigarette worker and a promising soldier who throws his career away in lusting after her seems like an unlikely premise for an opera. But Bizet's rousing music and the melodramatic tale of love and obsession woven around it make Carmen  hard to resist. The casting and current production make for a satisfying night out at the Royal Opera . I caught this production just before Christmas with the alternative cast. Korean tenor Younghoon Lee as Don José delivers a thrilling performance with his range and gradually escalating dramatic intensity. By the finale the audiences were cheering.  Christine Rice as Carmen was equally thrilling and has a dark timbre and luscious sound that is well suited to the role. The rest of the cast rise to the drama of the occasion. As Escamillo, the  Johnny Depp of opera  Kostas Smoriginas, dominates his scenes with a commanding voice and presence.  Francesca Zambello's stylish production evokes Seville but what lingers ev