About Time You Saw: Pop-Up OperaBy Gilly Hopper
Pop-Up Opera presents, L’Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers)
Tipples of elderflower and prosecco. Chocolate muffins and other assorted baked goods on demand. Professional opera in quirky environments. Pop-up Opera, the touring company changing our perception of opera returns for the summer, creating inventive environments in which to explore and appreciate opera. From the apprehensive to the enthused, Pop-up opera offers a platform fro young professionals to expand their repertoire and engage with new audiences across the UK.
The touring company’s latest endeavour takes place at the Brunel Museum, in a cylindrical shaft beneath the Thames. (Note that the temperature in the tunnel shaft may be cool, so bring your woolies. Access is by (sturdy) scaffold stairs only, with a low doorway to enter the shaft.)
Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers) meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, against a backdrop of glitz and grit at the Algiers Hotel, Nevada. Sung in Italian with English captions, Rossini’s opera (written when the composer was just 21) is all faded-starlets, corrupt business and seduction. An absurd comedy, with high levels of infidelity L’Italiana in Algeri is a great example of opera’s playful side. The libretto is given a last minute update with scrawling’s added, captioning live events, prompting and enhancing onstage comedy. No prompting was necessary in praising Irish mezzo-soprano, Helen Stanley, who delivered a solid performance as the brazen Isabella. Characterful and with a solid technique, soprano Catrin Woodruff warrants similar praise in her interpretation of Elvira, the wife of brutish club owner Mustafa.
For new recruits, Pop-up Opera suggest some useful Italian to see you on your way to aficionado status. (This will see you through most of the opera).
Useful Italian words and phrases:
Felice/infelice – happy/unhappy
Crudel tormento – cruel torment
Amor/Amore – love
Sempre – always
Kaimakan – casino entertainment director
Mi confondo – it confuses me
Sposare – to marry
Il bey – the boss
From Glochestershire to Hampshire, there are plenty of opportunities to catch the company and with constantly changing locations no two shows are the same. Find your nearest performance here.
Photography by Richard Lakos.