Pop-Up Opera’s Don Pasquale is a production that bursts with life, reflective of both the tensions and excitement of the libretto, and of the energy of Donizetti’s composition. What allows this particular production to really stand out is the fact that Pop-Up Opera, founded in 2011 by Clementine Lovell, brings the characters and their relationships clambering into the modern day with great comic touches that underscore the tensions between the characters on stage. The company works on the cornerstone of performance in unusual locations and this concept, although fairly simple, is incredibly effective, literally engaging the viewer by planting us in the middle of the action. When Don Pasquale fights with his nephew Ernesto at the dining room table, it is as if we have pulled up a chair beside them. The result is that the opera is brought to life and the combination of innovative storytelling with classical material is a clear crowd-pleaser.
Ricardo Panela’s ‘Bella come un angelo’ was cleverly played and sung with great sensitivity to the balance of comedy and Don Pasquale’s desperation, a similar balance central to Clementine Lovell’s ‘So anch’io la virtu magica’, a well-observed character study playing upon the current ‘selfie’ culture in order to convey Norina’s ego and coquettishness. When the singers came together for ‘E rimasto la impietrato’ the power of their voices, and the way in which each actor maintained the nuances of their character, was really engaging.
Pop Up Opera will quite literally be coming to a venue near you as the return to the stage ( used in the looset possible sense) on the 3rd June at the Soul in the City Festival. The run continues right through to July plays in exciting venues such as the Thames Tunnel Underground Shaft. For further details see their website: http://www.popupopera.co.uk/.