Impropera and OperaUpClose Set To Break BarriersDate: 4 November 2009
As if it isn’t a city rich enough with operatic wonders, two London initiatives are seeking to draw more people into the art form. Impropera have been performing their unique brand of opera improvisation for some years and they return to the West End with a new set of shows while the Cock Tavern Theatre, one of North London’s hidden treasures, is branching out into a whole new genre: pub opera.
Under artistic director David Pearl, Impropera enjoyed a sell-out run at the Leicester Square Theatre last year and return to the venue for three new shows, improvising musical style, storylines and characters on the spot from the audience’s suggestions. Think Whose Line Is It Anyway? (if you’re old enough) and you’ll get the picture.
Impropera draw upon the playfulness and adrenalin of improvisation and the passion and drama of opera, to create entirely improvised operas with an anarchic, irreverent edge. The company promises virtuoso performances and an encyclopaedic musical knowledge, enabling them to make an opera about absolutely anything.
“Audiences enjoy the show whether they’re seasoned opera lovers or have never seen an opera before,” says Pearl. “I think it’s the blend of serious music and surreal comedy. That, and the fact that people love to see posh musicians on the edge of panic!”
The Impropera Company features Comedy Store regular baritone Niall Ashdown, sopranos Morag McLaren and Susan Bisatt, with clarinettist Peter Furniss, and musical director Anthony Ingle on piano. Tickets are £15 (£10 concessions).
OperaUpClose was formed to create affordable opera in an intimate setting (it probably couldn’t be more intimate unless they came to your bedroom). Founded only at the beginning of this year, The Cock Tavern Theatre, located in Kilburn High Road, has already established itself as a leading fringe venue and has just won the Dan Crawford Pub Theatre Award.
Artistic Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher set up the company to bring opera to life for new audiences, and to offer the extraordinary opportunity to experience the dramatic and musical event of opera up close.
For the inaugural production, La bohème (to be directed by Robin Norton-Hale) is transported from 1830s Bohemian Paris to the gritty realism of vibrant modern day North London. The inspirational experience of Puccini’s music is brought to an intimate staging with a young cast and chorus. This production has been conceived to make the opera as visceral, funny, accessible and emotionally engaging for audiences as it was at its first performance in 1896.
With tickets at just £15 (£10 concessions) and a limited number available for a fiver each night, it’s got to be worth checking out.
Impropera have shows at the Leicester Square Theatre on Sundays 15 November and 13 December, 7.30pm. Further information at www.impropera.co.uk. La bohème plays at the Cock Tavern Theatre, Kilburn from 8 December to 23 January. Details at www.cocktaverntheatre.com
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