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The Opera Locos – Peacock Theatre | Review

The word “Locos” in the title has, unfortunately, nothing to do with steam trains (the reason I wanted to see it!), but stands for “crazy”, which at times it is! Five singers, soprano Maria Rey-Joly, mezzo Mayca Teba, tenor Jesus Alvarez, baritone Enrique Sanchez-Ramos and counter tenor Michael Kone, sing a medley of well known operatic arias, plus songs such as ‘Granada’, ‘Funiculi-Funicula’, ‘Plaisir d’Amor’ and ‘O Sole Mio’ to an accompaniment of a backing track consisting of either full orchestra, or, more frequently, piano and drums/keyboard. The show, conceived and directed by Yllana (David Ottone and Joe O’Curneen) was first seen in 2018, and played on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year.
The Opera Locos
The Opera Locos
In ninety-five minutes, the company whisk zanily through a vague plot that involves Alfredo, a worn-out tenor with a glorious past (Alvarez), Enrique (Sanchez-Ramos), the baritone precise in his macho swagger, Franelli (Kone)  quirky and pop-loving, Maria (Rey-Joly) dreamy and naive and Carmen (Teba) who is “wild”. To be honest, as there is no dialogue, all the music is sung in its original language and because the cast’s mime skills are not that explicit, it is almost impossible to follow the plot! In fact during the interval many in the audience could be heard asking the front-of-house staff if they could buy a programme: it was a great shame that there weren’t any!!!! BUT for those used to opera the plot is usually unimportant anyway: just listen to the singing!
The well-known music includes arias, duets and short scenes from The Magic Flute, La Traviata (the Brindisi, which we were all invited to sing!), La Boheme (the finale to Act Two!),  Madama Butterfly (One Fine Day of course!), The Barber of Seville (Figaro….) plus the above mentioned Neapolitan songs, and numbers by Bob Marley and Celine Dion as well as Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’! Perhaps the best sequence was when the audience was encouraged to individually “explore” ‘La Donna e Mobile’ from Rigoletto, some of us sitting in the stalls being “invited” to contribute one note, mine being the highest!
The show ends with a sort of English language Pop Megamix which, although enjoyed by the audience, seems out of place and “tacked on”, as if to “fill out” the otherwise rather brief evening. The imaginative, seemingly ever-changing costume designs were by Tatiana de Sarabia and the effective lighting by Enrique Toro. It was a shame that he could not encourage the singers to stand in his spotlights!
If I have a criticism it is that whenever the show seemed in danger of flagging, the audience was encouraged to “clap along” even when, after a few attempts, it was obvious that they did not want to!! Only a few ever joined in, for a few seconds!
A mildly amusing and entertaining show from a very hard-working cast,  perhaps especially recommended to those who have always steered clear of opera!

4 stars

Review by John Groves

In the show, a troupe of eccentric opera singers embark on a performance of repertoire from the greatest operatic composers, throughout the show they each reveal their hidden passions that will bring unpredictable and comedic consequences. The group is made up of five colourful characters including Alfredo, a worn-out tenor with a glorious past, wild mezzo soprano Carmen, Enrique, the macho baritone, pop-loving counter-tenor Franelli and Maria, a naive soprano.

The Opera Locos features music from classic operas including Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Verdi’s La Traviata, Puccini’s La Boèhme and Madama Butterfly, Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Bizet’s Carmen among others alongside pop and rock hits such as Mika’s ‘Grace Kelly’, Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’, Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’, Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No cry’, Céline Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight?’ and U2’s ‘With or Without You’.

Soprano María Rey-Joly
Mezzo soprano Mayca Teba
Tenor Jesús Álvarez
Beritone Enrique Sánchez-Ramos
Counter tenor Michaël Koné

Original ideal YLLANA and Rami Eldar
Created and Directed by YLLANA
Artistic Directors David Ottone and Joe O’Curneen (YLLANA)
Musical Directors Marc Álvarez and Manuel Coves
Choreography Carlos Chamorro
Set Design Tatiana De Sarabia, David Ottone, Yeray González
Light Design Enrique Toro
Sound Design Luis López de Segovia
Costume Design Tatiana de Sarabia
Makeup Design Tatiana de Sarabia, Sara Álvarez, ARTMAKERS
Music live recorded by Orquesta Sinfónica VERUM
Orchestra Conductor Manuel Coves
Photos Lighuen De Santos
Sound Tech Carlos Calvo
Lighting Tech Enrique Toro
Stage & Tech Manager Antonio de la Torre
Production Manager Daniela Scarabino

The Opera Locos
Peacock Theatre, WC2
Wednesday 8 – Saturday 11 May 2024
Tickets: £18 – £45
www.sadlerswells.com

Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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