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Review of TriOperas at The Peacock Theatre, London

L-R Shoreina Pereira, Lucy Aiston & Lucy Kay - TriOperas - Peacock Theatre - Photograph by Tristram Kenton
L-R Shoreina Pereira, Lucy Aiston & Lucy Kay – TriOperas – Peacock Theatre – Photograph by Tristram Kenton

The world premiere of TriOperas is quite simply live theatre at its best. It made me glad to be alive and privileged to be in the audience. The mastermind behind TriOperas is the one woman polymath Pamela Tan-Nicholson. Not only is the concept of reimaging three great operas – Turandot, Madam Butterfly and Carmen – hers but so also is the music and lyrics, the design and the choreography!

She has created a totally original and jaw-dropping show. Part Cirque de Soleil, part Strictly Come Dancing, part puppetry, part ballet, she mixes flamenco, tap, pole dancing, hip-hop, rap, pole and lion dancing, not to mention Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) martial arts, singing and the music to create a total work of art. Moreover, she does it with a panache, energy and style that takes the breath away. She never forgets that the audience wants to be entertained and to have a good time. Boy, do you get your money’s worth. Each opera last for half an hour and there is an interval between each one, so nice and relaxed. Perfect summer’s entertainment.

From the moment Turandot the Chinese Warrior Princess comes swooping down from the gods onto the stage you just know that this is going to be a wonderful show. The fight scenes are exhilarating, there is a very realistic beheading and some great comedy – especially the Royal maidens singing “Go away, you idiot.” There is so much to enjoy about this show. Especially perhaps its originality. Geishas tap dancing, or Carmen pole dancing, a traditional Chinese Lion transformed into a Spanish bull by adding horns of course, or the use of hidden trampolines to aid Carmen’s escape from the police.

As we move from China in the first opera (Turandot) to Japan in the second (Madam Butterfly) and Spain in the third (Carmen) we get a sense of one world, one globe, one human community. Pamela Tan-Nicholson (her name suggests as much) finds stimulation and excitement in the coming together of different traditions. If we are to create a global cosmopolitan community I would put my money on Pamela Tan-Nicholson and the arts. The evening filled me with hope, not only that the arts can bring us together globally, but equally importantly reaching out socially. We hear too much about opera and elitism and not enough about opera and inclusivity, so I was delighted to see some wonderful performances last night from students from the Brit School in Croydon. As the Brit School’s Stuart Worden noted “TriOperas would open new doors to students who may not have ever experienced opera before” and the Brit school students would “fire up the art form”. If you’ve never seen an opera before or think that it’s not for you, then I would urge you to see this show. It’s the best introduction to opera you could possibly ask for you. You get three for the price of one. Superb.

5 Star Rating

Review by John O’Brien

Three legendary operas come together for an unforgettable journey of love, vengeance, tears and laughter with shortened versions of Turandot, Butterfly and Carmen in one spectacular triple bill.

TRIOPERAS features the beautiful classics that you know and love, including Nessun Dorma, One Fine Day, Humming Chorus, Habanera and The Toreador Song, merged with punk, rap, rock and hip-hop.

This high adrenaline show is a dazzling experience, with an incredible display of acrobatics, kung-fu, puppetry, breakdancing, tap, ballet, salsa and even Chinese lion wushu and parkour.

23 May – 1 Jul 2018
The Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2A 2HT, London


  • John OBrien

    JOHN O’BRIEN born in London in 1960 is a born and bred Londoner. His mother was an illiterate Irish traveller. His early years were spent in Ladbroke Grove. He was born at number 40 Lancaster Road. In 1967 the family was rehoused in Hackney. He attended Brooke House School for Boys in Clapton, - as did Lord Sugar. He became head boy and was the first person in his family to make it to university, gaining a place at Goldsmiths College in 1978. He took a degree in Sociology and a PGCE . From 1982 until 1993 he taught at schools in Hackney and Richmond. In 1984-85 he attended Bristol University where he gained a Diploma in Social Administration. From 1985 until 1989 he studied part-time in the evenings for a degree in English Literature at Birkbeck College. He stayed on at Birkbeck from 1990-1992 to study for an MA in Modern English Literature. He left teaching in 1993 and has worked as a tutor, researcher, writer and tour guide. He leads bespoke guided tours on London’s history, art , architecture and culture. He has attended numerous courses at Oxford University - Exeter College, Rewley House & Kellogg College. In London, he attends courses at Gresham College, The National Gallery, The British Museum, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, The British Academy and The Royal Society. Read the latest London theatre reviews by all reviewers.

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