Tuesday 6 June 2017

Il Matrimonio Segreto - Review

Geffrye  Museum, London


Written by Domenico Cimarosa
Directed by Max Hoehn

Chiara Vinci and Mark Bonney

The idea that opera can pop-up is delightful and Pop-Up Opera’s simple approach to the genre, even more so. It’s no wonder Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto, or The Secret Marriage, is his greatest masterpiece and it’s also no wonder that the cast and crew seemed so full of pride at their humble creation; it really was quite gorgeous and a giggle to behold.

With just musical director Berrak Dyer on accompanying piano, the cast take us through the story of Paolino and Carolina’s farcical attempts to gain acceptance of their marriage from Carolina’s father, Geronimo. Helpfully and hilariously captioned by Max Hoehn and Harry Percival, who must be terrific company down the pub if their puns are anything to go by, we are taken on a whirlwind of emotion as betrothals go awry and Aunt Fidalma tries to get her leg over. Tom Asher as the Count is adorably attached to his bicycle helmet and somehow just as adorable in his creepy lovelorn attempts to win the affections of Chiara Vinci’s Carolina. Peter Kirk as poor, poor Paolino plays the perfect pushover, blissfully unaware of Fidalma (the hysterical Vivien Conacher) and her instruction-manual inspired lustful lurches until they find themselves in a more than compromising position.

The whole beautiful bunch are in absolute harmony from their voices (which never failed to incite goosebumps despite the less than fabulous acoustics of the downstairs space at the eclectic Geffrye Museum) to the familiarity that supported a performance based on trust, scarce props and a few coloured (and strong!) chairs.

The captions are awash with local references from referring to the room as “friends, Hoxtonians and countrymen”, to Elisetta’s declaration that she will inform “all of Shoreditch” that Carolina is a slapper, grounding the melodrama a little. As melodramatics is kind of what opera is all about though, we still find that the cast swoons (mostly the men), big bellies are embraced, solutions come in the form of tying people up and sending them to the nunnery and rolled “r”s are revelled in.

There is not one underwhelming performance in Pop Up Opera’s Il Matrimonio Segreto. Don't miss this fantastic troupe!

Currently touring the UK - click here for tour schedule
Reviewed by Heather Deacon
Photo credit: Richard Lakos (The Other Richard)

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