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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

Death Becomes Her: La Traviata @RoyalOperaHouse

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The original hooker with a heart of gold (and lungs full of blood) is back at The Royal Opera House for the Christmas period and beyond. It’s a bright and stylish production that was first seen at the Royal Opera twenty five years ago. But La Traviata, or the “fallen woman”, is more than just froth, bubbles and champagne. It’s also about the frailty of life and how redemption can come in many guises. In this particular version conducted by Daniel Oren, it’s the somber more reflective moments that stand out. Whether you like that sort of thing or not.  In case you were wondering if there’s a plot to all these emotions in La Traviata, it centres around Violetta, a courtesan who at one of her lavish parties dumps one lover for another. But her new suitor, a moderately wealthy man called Alfredo, turns out to be more than she expected and they both fall in love. Meanwhile Alfredo’s bourgeois father seeks to restore the family honour while Violetta grapples with moral choices while