web analytics


Normally when you think of Opera, you think of lavish sets, a huge orchestra, elaborate costumes and a liberetto in a language you can’t understand. Although you can still lose yourself in the beautiful score and emotions of the singers, sometimes I wish it was a bit more accessible. This is exactly what OperaUpClose succeeds in doing, taking a composition into an intimate space, updating it in such a way that the audience can’t help but sit up and engage.

This new English version, with liberetto by Adam Spreadbury-Maher, takes place in East Berlin, 1989. Everything from the stark lighting, to the minimalistic set and even the way the musicians are dressed, the fabulous Elspeth Wilkes (Piano), William Rude (Cello) and Kimberly Ward (Clarinet), brings to mind Germany nearing the end of the Soviet Union’s reign. I especially enjoyed how the angelus of act one is replaced by Communist anthem ‘The Red Flag’ and even the intermission announcement is in English and German.

Edward Hughes is excellent as Mario Cavaradossi, the painter in love with the famous opera singer Floria Tosca, showing an almost child-like naivety in his love for her, his unwavering loyalty to his friend Angelotti and his belief in a different Germany. Miles Horner brings both comedy and a brutish quality to his varied roles (Angelotti, Caretaker and Spoletta) making me laugh and squirm in equal measure. James Harrison cuts a suave figure in his three-piece suit and brings a calculating quality too, rather than the thuggish being you might expect, though I really would have liked him to be more sinister and intense in his delivery. The undoubted star however is Becca Marriott as Floria Tosca. She is every inch the proud operatic diva she should be and, from her first scene showing her jealous love for Mario to the heart breaking finale, you can’t take your eyes off her. The show down between Scarpia, Cavaradossi and Tosca after the news that Honecker has resigned is spine-tingling, as is the closing of act two.

This is an imaginative and thought-provoking production and if you haven’t experienced opera before I recommend you start here. As Floria Tosca so beautifully sings, it is a “pure delight”!

– – – – – – – – – –

REVIEWED 09/10/12

By Amy Lawrence

2nd Oct – 10th Nov 2012
The King’s Head Theatre, London, N1.

Showing selected dates only so please check the website www.kingsheadtheatre.com

Comments are closed.