The London Museum of Water and Steam
Well this is rather tentatively Shakespeare-related – Bellini’s opera is based on the same story, but not on Shakespeare’s version of the tale. Nevertheless, it’s such a good show I just had to rave about it somewhere!
Pop-up Opera is a brilliant company who go around the country putting opera on in unlikely places, and with very small casts (and basically no props, and only a piano for accompaniment). Now I’ll admit that opera is not Desperately Seeking Cymbeline’s natural habitat. But it feels to me such a massive undertaking and so fundamentally in conflict with the idea of bare bones production that, much like Samuel Johnson, I am surprised to find it done it all. Pop-up Opera go further and do it really very well.
A cast of five gave us the show – Clementine Lovell and Katie Grosett as Giulietta and Romeo* respectively (yes I know they’re both women, no it wasn’t that sort of show, it’s how the opera was written), Oliver Brignall as Tebaldo**, Eugene Dillon-Hooper as Capellio*** and Matthew Palmer as Lorenzo****. I really couldn’t single any of them out, either for quality of singing or for acting ability – they were all astonishingly good and astonishingly evenly matched.
I saw Bellini’s opera at the London Museum of Water and Steam – a large space certainly not configured for optimum acoustics – and the extent to which the cast filled the space with their singing was incredible. To combine the closeness and acting style of a studio performance with that kind of blow-your-ears-off singing makes for an unforgettable performance. And I have to give a special mention to the irreverent but very good captions…
Next up is the Barber of Seville. If you have ever been even vaguely interested in going to see opera buy yourself a ticket!
*Juliet and Romeo according to Shakespeare
**** Fulfils the roles of the Nurse and Friar Laurence, and any other minor characters, the sort of role for which the word “factotum” was coined…