Opera has a certain stigma about it doesn’t it? If I ask a 16 year old hanging out with his mates in the centre of Croydon if he fancied going to some opera, I can already hear the laughter. If I went into the Whitgift Centre and asked the same question to the 20 year old working in a coffee shop, while they may be more receptive, I imagine the reply to be that they couldn’t afford it, or it’s not really their thing.
It’s these responses that Pop Up Opera try very hard to counter, in fact it is in having experienced these responses that Pop-Up Opera first came about. As a professional opera singer herself Clementine Lovell was no stranger to friends and family not being present at her performances because opera was not their cup of tea. But rather than accept this and perform to an audience of strangers in theatre after theatre, she decided to bring opera home and prove to them that it could be their thing…And prove it she did! Pop-Up Opera now perform three different productions a year, touring to around 90 venues and if you look around the room you will see a mix of all ages and backgrounds which makes us very happy!
So what makes Pop-Up Opera different? Alongside the unique spaces, we immerse the audience, performing amongst them, bringing the action to life - so as you can imagine being that close, our singers have to be brilliant actors too, which they are. While we break convention with our venues, humour and captions, we always sing in the original language. This we are very strict on as while we want to bring opera to everyone, we are true to the art and the music and will never change that, which is why regular opera goers love us too. Don’t worry though, there are captions so you’ll never get lost. When needed we will give direct translations but otherwise we use artistic license and can sometimes give just one word to sum up a song, or modern day reference, or even just an emoticon. With the incredible music, staging and brilliant acting, sometimes that is all that is needed!
So why not give us a try as we come to Croydon in May. We will be performing a Mozart Double Bill: Der Schauspieldirektor & Bastien und Bastienne. I am sure that most of you are familiar with the name Mozart but may not be familiar with these operas so let me tell you in a few words: The first, Der Schauspieldirektor, is the story of a small opera company casting for their upcoming production. Budgets are tight, too many divas are in one room, and emotions run high! Expect to hear some impressive vocal acrobatics as candidates battle it out for the main role!
The second tells the tale of a young couple whose relationship is riddled with adolescent distrust and jealousy. They seek the advice of a questionable “relationship counsellor”, who confidently blags his way through various guidance and solutions… I won’t tell you the outcome, but both stories are comedies!
We’ll be with you on Thursday 17th May as part of the Croydonites Festival at St Andrews Community Hub - see you there!
Written by Emily Salmon at Pop-Up Opera