Saturday, 3 June 2017

Full of sunshine & wit: Il Matrimonio Segreto pops up at the Geffrye Museum

Pop-Up Opera, Il Matrimonio Segreto, Helen Stanley, Ciara Vinci, Tom Asher (photo Richard Lakos, The Other RIchard)
Pop-Up Opera, Il Matrimonio Segreto, Helen Stanley, Ciara Vinci, Tom Asher (photo Richard Lakos, The Other Richard)
Cimarosa Il Matrimonio Segreto; Joseph Kennedy, Tom Asher, Emily Blanch, Vivien Conacher, Peter Kirk, Chiara Vinci; Pop-Up Opera at the Geffrye Museum
Reviewed by Anthony Evans on May 31 2017
Star rating: 4.0

The comic delight of Cimarosa's opera in a lively new production makes for an entertaining evening

Pop-Up Opera, Il Matrimonio Segreto, Emily Blanch, Helen Stanley (photo Richard Lakos, The Other Richard)
Emily Blanch, Helen Stanley (photo Richard Lakos, The Other Richard)
Pop-Up Opera is a touring opera company aiming to broaden the appeal of the art form. This week, Wednesday 31 May 2017, Domenico Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto popped-up at the Geffrye Museum, directed by Max Hoehn, music director Berrak Dyer, with Tom Asher, Emily Blanch, Peter Kirk, Chiara Vinci, Joseph Kennedy, and Vivien Conacher

Cimarosa wrote some eighty operas in his lifetime but only one, Il Matrimonio Segreto, having received the longest encore in operatic history, is still performed with any regularity. Compared to his more famous contemporaries Cimarosa’s composition can sound bland but the inventive melodies and sparkling ensembles are “full of sunshine” and wit.

Directed by Max Hoehn, a recent nominee at the 2016 International Opera Awards, Il Matrimonio Segreto is an anarchic Dramma Giocoso, a comedy of errors based on the play The Clandestine Marriage which was in turn inspired by Hogarth’s Marriage a-la-mode.

Pop-Up Opera, Il Matrimonio Segreto, Mark Bonney, Emily Blanch, Peter Willcock,  Ciara Vinci, Tom Asher, Helen Stanley (photo Richard Lakos, The Other Richard)
Mark Bonney, Emily Blanch, Peter Willcock,  Ciara Vinci, Tom Asher,
Helen Stanley (photo Richard Lakos, The Other Richard)

Geronimo (Joseph Kennedy) is attempting to hive off his daughter Elisetta (Emily Blanch) to the Count Robinson (Tom Asher). Fidalma (Vivien Conacher), his sister, holds a torch for Paulino (Peter Kirk), his secretary, who has secretly married Carolina (Chiara Vinci) Geronimo’s other daughter. What could possibly go wrong?

With little more than four chairs and an empty room Max Hoehn crafted a sharp ensemble piece – a comic delight. The anarchic story lending itself perfectly to his free-wheeling and flippant interpretation. Emily Blanch’s tweedy dowd and Vivien Conacher’s titillatingly sassy aunt were particularly delightful. The piquant captions (by Max Hoehn and Harry Percival) were an art form in themselves; and who knew dipsy-doodle was a word?

It was a pity that, for all the nimble playing and charismatic singing, the savage acoustic killed dynamic nuance; but for all it’s rough edges this was a hugely entertaining evening.
Reviewed by Anthony Evans

Pop-Up Opera's production of Cimarosa's Il Matrimonio Segreto is touring until 30 July 2017 to venues from Exmoor to Essex, including the Mill Hill Music Festival (20 June) and the Old Divinity School Cambridge (8 July), full details from the Pop-Up Opera website.
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