IL MASTRIMONIO SEGRETO
composed by Domenico Cimarosa
libretto by Giovanni Bertati
based on The Clandestine Marriage by George Colman & David Garrick,
4 Stars ****
The Brunel Shaft, Railway Avenue, Rotherhithe, London SE16 4LF on 6 July and subsequently on tour to 30 July 2017.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.
Review: William Russell 6 July.
A scintillating and tuneful evening
Part of the charm of Popup Opera is that it does just that, touring round the countryside performing in all sorts of venues. The performance I saw of this very funny opera by Cimarosa was in the shaft Brunel built for his tunnel under the Thames at Rotherhithe, a venue they have visited several times before. It was immaculately performed by the cast of six with, if one has to name names a standout performance from Matthew Palmer as the English count in search of a rich wife. There are two singers performing each role so the cast varies from date to date. If the combinations are as good as the one I saw, and there is no reason to think otherwise because the company’s standards are high, then it will be an evening of utter delight.
The plot is simple. Paolino has secretly married his employer’s younger daughter Carolina. They decide that if they find a husband for her plain elder sister Elisetta then father Geronimo will forgive them for marrying. Paolino enlists an English fortune hunter Count Robinson. Unfortunately he decides he does not much fancy Elisetta and much prefers Carolina while the girls’ aunt Fidelma decides Paolino is the man for her. Getting out of the tangle is complicated and involves lots of duets, trios, quartets and aria and several scenes of a sexual nature, although nothing to scare Aunt Edna is involved.
Director Max Hoehn has come up with a swift, inventive staging which makes amazing use of four kitchen chairs and not much else, while musical director Barrak Dyer at the piano keeps things moving musically. It is quite simply great fun, has no pretensions to be anything else and the surtitles are lewd, witty and to the point. Popup has done some good work in the past, but this production is really rather special.
Carolina: Chiara Vinci/Catrin Woodruff.
Elisetta: Heather Caddick/Emily Blanch.
Count Robinson: Tom Asher/Matthew Palmer.
Paolino: Peter Kirk/Mark Bonney.
Geronimo: Peter Willcock/Joseph Kennedy.
Fidelma: Vivien Conacher/Helen Stanley.
Director: Max Hoehn.
Musical Director: Barrak Dyer.
Costume Supervisor: Fiona Rigler.
Captions: Max Hoehn & Harry Percival.
Pianist at some performances: Richard Leach
Tour Dates – St Mary’s Islington, London 8 June; Court Gardens Farm, Ditching, East Sussex 10 – 25 June; The Flavel, Dartmouth, Devon 13 June; Lower Grenofen, Tavistock, Dartmoor; Artsreach, Durweston Village Hall, Dorset 16 June; Simonsbath Festival, St Luke’s Church, Exmoor 17 June; Hartley Hall, Mill Hill Music Festival, London 20 June; Cheriton Old Rectory Grounds, Cheriton, Hampshire 24 June; Beaminster Festival, Beaminster, Dorset 28 June; The Corn Barn, Cullompton, Devon 29 June; The Harwich Festival, Harwich, Essex 1 July; St Mary the Virgin, Stonham Parva, Suffolk 2 July; The Great Barn, Harrow 6 July; Old Divinity School Cambridge 8 July: Thaxted Festival, Essex 9 July; Three Choirs Vinyard, Newent, Gloucestershire 14 July; St Michael & All Angels Church, Kingsland, Herefordshire 15 July; Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent 18 July; St Margaret of Antioch Church, Leigh Delamere, Chippenham 21 July; Court Farm, Aylton, Ledbury 22 July; Elsted Village Hall, West Sussex 25 July; Moor Farm, Shrewsbury, Shropshire 28 July; Broome Farm Cider Barn, Herefordshire 30 July.