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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 sopranos as he wanted the sound virginal. So maybe they got the wild bit right for the mezzo-soprano. 

Anyway, through a series of sketches, scenes, and audience participation, there are tales of love for music. There's even a little story around the love of a fan for a tenor whose star has faded. And another about the baritone trying to give singing lessons to the counter-tenor in a more "macho" style. 

Be warned that as this is opera, suicide is a subject matter, and as this is a comic show, there is also audience participation, especially if you are in the front row. 

The concept of the show, created by the Yllana company, is to explore the comic potential of opera and make it more accessible. You must still be familiar with the various operas; otherwise, you might be bewildered by their origins. But the mash-ups with the more modern songs suggest the line from aria to pop is potentially a continuous one. If only the songs were more recent and the sound was a bit clearer so you could hear the singers. 

Created and directed by YLLANA, Opera Locos is at the Peacock Theatre until 11 May. 


Photos: production photos supplied

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