I CAPULETTI E I MONTECCHI
Music byVincenzo Bellini
Libretto by Felice Romani.
Touring till 5 May (details below)
71 Blandford Street, London W1U 8AB – 3O March 2016. Tour dates follow at end.
Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: William Russell 30 March.
Pop Up Opera changes direction and goes tragic.
For their summer tour this enterprising company has opted to stage Bellini’s version of the story of Romeo and Juliet. The libretto by Romani is not based on Shakespeare’s play but on a story that he too used as source material. Director James Hurley has set it in the present in the world of the Mafia barons and their princesses who are not free to do as they wish.
Bellini has provided two marvellous roles for Giulietta, the soprano, and Romeo, a trouser role for a Mezzo and their arias and duets are everything one expects of bel canto. They soar superbly and Flora McIntosh as Romeo and Alice Privett as Giuletta rose to the challenges in fine style.
The plot differs from Shakespeare in that when we meet them the pair are already lovers. Her Mafia don father, Capellio, a sonorous Andrew Tipple, has decided she will marry his henchman, Tebaldo, Cliff Zammit-Stevens oozing machismo. She is for obvious reasons not at all keen, but she is also reluctant to abandon her family, the life of a Mafia princess after all has its advantages.
There is no Friar, but there is a friendly Mafia consigliore called Lorenzo, a suitably two faced Matthew Palmer, who suggests the sleeping pill ploy that will suggest she is dead as a way out the lovers. Things do not, of course, go to plan, guns are pulled, people get tied up and a series of standoffs ensue.
Hurley has set up some splendidly nasty confrontations between the men – we first meet Romeo blindfolded and pinioned in a chair being tortured – and the whole production fizzes and crackles along at great speed. The opera, Bellini’s first, was hugely successful when premiered in 1833 but went out of fashion later in the century and it is now not all that common. So this is a splendid opportunity to enjoy what it has to offer.
Pop Up Opera, as the name implies, uses various locations, but the basement space at Carousel where it held its London press night suited this production to perfection, carrying as it did a hint of the garage in which Reservoirs Dog was set, a film which must have influenced some of the goings on as much as The Godfather and all the other Mafia movies.
Romeo: Flora McIntosh.
Giuletta: Alice Privett.
Capellio: Andrew Tipple.
Tebaldo: Cliff Zammit-Stevens.
Lorenzo: Matthew Palmer.
Director: James Hurley.
Musical Director: Berrak Dyer.
Captions – Technical Assistant: Harry Percival.
2 April 7.30pm: Court Garden Farm, Orchard Lane, Ditchling BN6 8TH.
6 April 7.30 pm: Royal Free Hospital, Paul Samuel Hall, Pond Street, London NW3 2QG.
9 April 8pm: Anne of Cleves Barn, Great Lodge, Bardfield, Essex CM7 4QD.
10 April 7.30pm: Asylum, Caroline Gardens Chapel, Peckham SE15 2SQ.
12 April 7.30pm: St Peter’s Terrace, De Beauvoir Town, London N1 4DA.
14 April 7.30pm: Brympton House, Brympton d’Evercy, Somerset BA 22 8TD.
20 & 21 April 7.30pm: Thames Tunnel Shaft, Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, Rotherhithe SE16.
24 April 5pm: St John’s House, 49 Southgate, Winchester SO23 9EH.
27 April 7.30pm: Tythe Barn, Charbridge Lane, Bicester, OXO 26 4SR
28 April 7.30pm London Museum of Water & Steam, Green Dragon Lane, Brentford TW8 0EN.
30 April 7.30pm: The Spire, St Martin’s Chapel, Eastern Road, Brighton BN2 5JN
5 May 8 pm: Brewery Arts Centre, 122a Highgate, Kendal LA9 4HE.
Other tour dates to follow.