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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

Last evil looks: Robert le Diable

Closing night of The Royal Opera's Robert le Diable was a drawn out affair. An opera that was described to me as Mildred Pierce meets The Omen , it could have been half its length if all the repeated phrases were cut. I don't recall ever seeing an audience so restless either who were mostly squirming or fidgeting throughout the four and a half hours of the performance. Meyerbeer's grand opera was an instant sensation when it first premiered 1831. Full of stuff that packed in the punters - drama, the occult, difficult music - over time it has not aged well. The story is inspired by a medieval legend of the devil's son. Robert, Duke of Normandy, has travelled to Sicily with the hope of marrying Princess Isabelle. But his companion, Bertram (who turns out to be more than just a friend) leads him astray. Cue chivalry, the occult and some incredibly outrageous French knight costumes that could have come direct from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Closing night seeme

Opera Last Look: Werther

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If opening night was a sensation watching Rolando Villazon in the title role, closing night didn't disappoint either. At the curtain call Villazon was very excited and shouting like a very satisfied man. The audience was on its feet applauding. It was mutual admiration. Villazon's performance made Werther, a tragic story about a young troubled poet who falls in love with a woman committed to someone else, incredibly passionate and engaging. His act three aria was worth the price of admission alone. Even in the context of an incredibly melodramatic opera, you couldn't help but be drawn into this world. And at the curtain call I couldn't help but think he must be awfully fun at parties. Opposite Villazon was Sophie Koch  playing Charlotte, the woman who is his obsession sounded great too. But focus of the  opera is the tragic young poet. With Antonio Pappano in the orchestra pit, the music was incredibly lush and intense. All breathtaking stuff... It was enough to m