|Matthew Palmer, Andrew Tipple, Alice Privett - Pop-Up Opera 2016 |
Bellini’s I Capuleti e I Montecchi (photo Richard Lakos)
|Clementine Lovell (photo Richard Lakos)|
She is influenced by her time living in Italy, when she found the attitudes to opera so very different. There, everyone went to the opera, and opera popped up in opera houses, piazzas, everywhere. And in the opera house there was rustling of papers, chatting to your neighbour about the tenor, whereas in the UK the reverential attitude to opera can be off-putting. So Pop-Up Opera tries to perform opera in a way which will hook people in.
The company began by focusing on comedies as a good way to engage people, but from the start they also performed in the original language, rather than in translation. This was deliberate policy, but Clemmie believes that people can be drawn in by the drama and the detail of the staging, as well as the company's signature-way with subtitles. They project subtitles so that they are more like those of a silent movie, and the text captures the essence of the meaning rather than being literal, often with humour and wit. Clemmie see this as putting another layer to the story, but also allows the audience to read into the piece what they want. Of course, working in relatively small venues the singers have to understand and communicate every word. The productions are often very interactive, with intimate venues the action takes place around the audience often interacting with them.
|Rossini - L'Italiana in Algeri - Pop-Up Opera 2015 (photo Richard Lakos)|
Last year, for the first time, Pop-Up Opera collaborated with a theatre and did a run of performances of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Kilden Theatre in Kristiansand in Norway, performing with a complete set and an orchestra. It was challenge to make it still a Pop-Up Opera production despite the changes in scale, but Clemmie feels that they were successful and were able to do innovative things with the projection of the subtitles onto the set. It has given the company confidence that they can perform on this larger scale and retain the company's distinctive production style, and Clemmie would like to find a venue in the UK where they could put on the production again.
|Bizet - Le docteur Miracle - Pop-Up Opera 2014 (Photo Jenny Dale)|
The company is not publicly funded at all. Their first ever tour was a profit-sharing one to 12 venues, and from there they developed with a business plan and more venues. The company puts its energy into into building the company and relationships with venues, rather than spending time putting together funding proposals. Clemmie admits that it is a challenge, but they are covering their costs.
Whilst the company would like to pay the singers more, they do cover accomodation, food and travel and are able to offer singers a lot of performances; it works out at around 20 performances over a few months. Clemmie sees them as offering a platform for young singers, a stepping stone for singers moving away from chorus work but not yet ready for bigger roles in bigger houses. And they now have plenty of singers coming to audition, there were some 400 last year.
|Donizetti's Don Pasquale in Clearwall Caves, May 2013 |
(courtesy of Kate Healey)
Performing with Pop-Up Opera is a very specific sort of job. Singers have to become accustomed to the audience being so close, and they need singers who are strong vocally with good acting skills, and they cannot hide behind fancy sets and costumes. With the right singers, Clemmie sees the performance as being exciting, rather raw and boiled down. And of course, the singers have to be willing to get into that tour bus, and to perform in diverse venues including a damp cave underground. Sometimes the back-stage area is simply the fire-escape. And for a lot of singers, these challenges are what make the performances exciting and interesting.
So far, they have barely experienced the sort of problems with venues arising from the popularity of the video performances from the Met, and Clemmie sees the Met shows as a good thing, encouraging people to try opera.
|Rossini - Il Barbiere di Siviglia|
Pop-Up Opera Summer 2016, (Photo Richard Lakos)
Then in Autumn 2017 the company is venturing another opera which isn't a comedy. Not a tragedy this time, Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, it is a piece which Clemmie calls dark and magical. It appeals to her that it is based on a folk story, and that it is such a well-known story means that they are able to reach out to people more. Some venues are excited that they are bringing Hansel and Gretel, though some are wary because it is not a comedy. With any production, there is a restriction on the size of the cast, but Clemmie feels that it is nice to step out of comedy occasionally. Hansel and Gretel is being directed by James Hurley (who directed Capuletti e i Montecchi), this will be his fourth production for them. They have a planned collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum, doing performances to coincide with the V&A's opera exhibition.
|Rossini - Il Barbiere di Siviglia - Pop-Up Opera at the Brunel Museum in Summer 2016, (Photo Richard Lakos)|
Popping Up near you
Bellini's I Capuleti et i Montecchi - 9 March to 8 April 2017
Cimarosa's Il matrimonio segreto - 18 May to 13 July 2017
Chabrier's Un education manquee - 29 July 2017, Holt Festival, Norfolk
Rossini's Il barbiere di Sivigla - 1 to 3 September 2017, on Corfu
Elsewhere on this blog:
- We're crowdfunding for Quickening, a disc of new settings of Rowan Williams, AE Housman, Ivor Gurney, Christina Rossetti by Robert Hugill coming out on the Navona Records label, please visit http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/quickening
- Sacred and Profane: Netherlands Chamber Choir and Peter Dijkstra - Concert review
- Its heart in the right place: ETO's Tosca - Opera review
- Shedding light on a forgotten Romantic: Mehul's Uthal - CD review
- Sunday afternoon delights: I Musicanti at St John's Smith Square - concert review
- Mescaline, therapy & the Berlin Wall: rough for opera #15 - opera review
- Ancient and Modern: Carolyn Sampson and Matthew Wadsworth in Dowland, Britten, Goss, Purcell - concert review
- Imaginative & engaging: Tara Erraught at Rosenblatt Recitals - concert review
- Powerful and deeply felt: James MacMillan's Stabat Mater - CD review
- Revitalising her reputation: Francesca Caccini's Alcina - CD review
- Before he was famous: Bellini's first opera Adelson e Salvini from Opera Rara - CD review
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