Given the huge variety of art forms that we Londoners can partake in on a daily basis, it seems fair that there will always be one genre that you consider before shrugging and thinking, ‘maybe later’. For me that art form is opera. I can appreciate it takes an insane amount of skill and training to be able to hit those high notes, but I’ve never been compelled to buy a ticket. But Pop Up Opera may be about to change all that.
If the arts council were looking for a new, up-and-coming company to fund in order to spark the nation’s interest in opera again, then this is it. This company have a real knack for taking classical opera, putting a casual and humorous spin on it and engaging modern audiences who don’t happen to have a Masters degree in Latin. And Mozart’s Die Entführung (or The Abduction) is no exception.
Having updated Mozart’s original setting from a Middle Eastern Harem to an detox Health Spa, the action follows two ladies being held against their will and their sweethearts who come to rescue them. The company ‘s adaptation does a good job of pushing Mozart into the 21st century where love letters become texts and public floggings become gruelling spinning classes. If at times the plot can seem a bit clunky it’s unclear whether this is Mozart’s original flaws or the modern adaptation, but it’s still entertaining either way.
Adapting the show to their surroundings, Pop Up Opera certainly utilise the space they find themselves in to its full potential and the whole production is reminiscent of the drawing room performances of the 18th century. One key design aspect that really makes this company stand out is the use of video screens where loose translations of the text are projected. Integral to the company’s appeal, their gentle rib-poking of the classical text draws out the laughs and relaxes the audience (‘Oh aren’t we in love, tra-la-la-la-la’ being one such example).
What is delightful about this company is that they really don’t skip on talent, despite playing to a maximum audience of 50 a night. Soprano Eve Daniell‘s voice is soars and is almost too powerful at times, while Marcin Gesla‘s deep baritone is as rounded and delicious as chocolate Lindor. If at times the cast over play their roles, it’s only because the screens are gently mocking the over dramatic nature of the genre.
Die Entführung is another success for this burgeoning company and it’s a delightful patisserie of a show, full of creamy voices and witty colour.
Reviewed by Roz Carter
Photo: Richard Lakos
Pop-up Opera: Mozart’s Die Entfuhrung is playing at various locations until 25 April 2015. Click here for more information and to book tickets.