Unexpected Opera at the Civic Theatre
Music teacher: "Do you like opera, Francesca?"
Francesca: "Apart from the singing, yes."
One of a plethora of musical jests on the Unexpected Opera website. One that neatly sums up my reaction to this immensely enjoyable entertainment, aimed at both “enthusiasts and first-timers”.
Well, opera buffs may well have laughed along with the rest of us, but Harriet Campbell's Una Voce was one of the few moments of purely musical pleasure.
This clever update to Fifties London was opera for people who don't really like opera, with endless [very funny] gags, asides, business and audience participation [not Figaro's Factotum tour-de-force, but “proper opera” - G&S !]
Rossini's music did not generally fare well, with some barely adequate voices accompanied by a reduction for reeds, keyboard, drums and bass.
Richard Immergluck was a baby-faced Billy Fury Figaro, with Jezz James as the Marquis; his finest moments came when he donned the habit – the other transvestite nun was a hilarious Phil Canner, making the most of his Calumny aria.
Dockson of Dick Green [never in Rossini's wildest dreams …] was brilliantly done by Tony Harris, effortlessly working the audience and stealing every scene.
The Barber of Savile Row was directed for the stage by Lynn Binstock, with Stephen Hose the MD.