LE DOCTEUR MIRACLE
by Georges Bizet.
Pop Up Opera Tour to 3 May 2014.
Runs 1hr 30min One interval.
Review: William Russell 10 March at Drink, Shop and Do.
Just possibly director Darren Royston may have overegged the pudding slightly with his staging of Bizet’s merry comic operetta – an omelette is at the heart of the plot – but it proves a stylish, diverting evening for all that.
The plot is the one about the suitor, rejected by his beloved’s father, who dons assorted disguises to win her hand and his consent. Add a new step-mother – father is her fourth rich husband – who favours the match and that just about sums it up.
Royston has added all sorts of things like mobile phones instead of messages read by the wrong people, and assorted arias from Carmen to pad things out a little. There are also some witty surtitles to add to the fun. One to relish was the telling-off Silvio got when he pressed his suit – "You haven’t got a horse’s chance in a Tesco Lasagne Factory". It works a treat.
Two casts will perform at different venues on the tour. The one I saw was impeccable, if at times a little loud for the venue. As the ardent Silvio, a one-time soldier who wants to be an opera singer, Robert Lomas, is suitably unsuitable, Aurelia Jonvaux is gloriously pert as Laurette, the woman he loves who believes he rises to the occasion, Sarah Champion is in fine voice as Veronique, her worldly wise step mother, and Bejamin Seifert matches her as the pater familias Le Podestat, who would have any son-in-law but the one his daughter wants.
It really is a very slight affair, and one of the problems about the added arias from Carmen and The Pearl Fishers is that they are actually much better than anything else in the score – hardly surprising since Bizet was only eighteen when he composed it.
Pop Up Opera’s aim is to reach new audiences by staging their work in unusual spaces (Drink, Shop and Do is a design shop and café bar housed in what was a Victorian bathhouse) without losing the musical quality of the performances. It is an aim they achieve splendidly.
Silvio: Robert Lomax/ Christopher Diffey.
Laurette: Aurelia Jonvaux/Clementine Lovell.
Veronique: Sarah Champion/ Helen Bailey.
Le Podestat: Benjamin Seifert/ Joseph Kennedy.
Director: Darren Royston.
Musical Director: Maria Garzon.
Captions;Technical Assistant: Harry Percival.
Captions; Technical Assistant; Timothy Cape.