For me, the first treat of the evening was the venue: built on the site of one of Henry VIII’s palaces and in the heart of the old print industry of Fleet Street. The theatre is part of the foundation established in 1891 for the culture and recreation of the print workers.
The evening gave us tasters of all the events that will be happening during the festival in August. First came an excerpt from Mozart and Salieri by Rimsky-Korsakov. Nick Dwyer is Salieri exasperated by Mozart his pupil who is incredibly talented and extremely irritating.
Aidan Coburn catches this beautifully, especially when playing Salieri his latest composition on his mobile phone!
This was followed by a piano recital by Simone Spagnolo from ‘Even you, lights, cannot hear me’, a new experimental work. We were also told about the Nero Monologues which is currently in rehearsal and will explore Nero’s life as a murderer who saw himself as an artist; could there be humanity within him? The production will include opera and dancing.
Andrew Bain performed some of his one-man show Lanza about 1950s singer and movie star Mario Lanza. He gave a powerful rendition of ‘Granada’ and then told us about Lanzo’s struggle as a successful movie star who really wanted to be an opera singer.
The second half of the evening was a production of the Mozart medley A Night in Vienna. Set in the reception area of the Vienna Grand Hotel and including songs from Mozart’s most famous Operas: Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, Cosi fan tutte and The Marriage of Figaro.
Two men vie for the love of one woman and use all the tricks in the book to win her. Aidan Coburn, Nick Dwyer and Nina Kopparhed are all wonderful and the English libretto by Pamela Schermann is at times hilarious. I particularly loved the updated Don Giovanni excerpt where his past conquests are revealed by scrolling through his Facebook! Brilliantly acted by all three performers and Aidan Coburn’s singing is so beautiful I was almost moved to tears.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening, so if you like opera but are put off by the prices at more traditional venues, go to the festival in August and give it a try in a great venue at a great price.
Review by Sally Knipe
This summer, the Bridewell Theatre in the heart of the City of London will become the home of new and innovative opera productions.
The two-weeks opera festival OPERA IN THE CITY is curated by Time Zone Theatre Ltd and their artistic director Pamela Schermann and will present a range of operatic works. In the exciting performance space of the Bridewell Theatre, the festival will show innovative takes on well-known operas as well as rarely performed, forgotten masterpieces. The festival focuses on theatrical pieces with a strong narrative, which will appeal to both regular opera audiences and those new to opera.
Review of Opera in the City Festival Launch Night on 29th May 2017, 7.30pm