Bellini’s I Capuleti E I Montecchi – Carousel Blandford Street Until 7th May

Bellni’s I Capuleti E I Montecchi

★★★★

Guest Review by Sarah Tinsley

Based on a Renaissance version of the classic love story, Bellini’s opera delivers high drama in a small space. In just a couple of hours, you can experience the thrills of live opera in an intimate setting.

As someone who’s never seen a live opera, in part because of the exorbitant prices and pretension associated with it, I guess I’m the ideal demographic for Pop-Up Opera. They are an innovative touring company that aim to bring opera to a wider audience, to make it enjoyable and inviting, without losing the quality of the musical performance. Underneath a stylish restaurant in Marylebone, in a stark concrete square littered with fallen chairs and strip lighting, the story of Romeo and Giulietta unfolds.

Photo Credit Richard Lakos

Photo Credit Richard Lakos

The narrative is not quite as we know it, in that the two tragic heroes have already met and fallen in love before the characters walk on stage. There is still the violent rivalry and the quest for bloodlust after Romeo has killed Capellio’s son, and Tebaldo is an ambitious general who seeks the hand of Giulietta in marriage. Rushing between both sides is Lorenzo, a trusted advisor who has been helping the lovers in secret.

It’s quite something to have an operatic performance going on a few feet in front of you. Trapped under the low ceiling, in the dark spaces, the voices blurt out at once tragic and lilting, with the ululations into higher range matched deftly with gestures, expressions or interactions from the performers. There were times when it was a little harsh on the ears, but for me that simply added to the experience. I found the wail of an operatic voice the perfect vehicle for sorrow and despair.

Photo Credit Richard Lakos

Photo Credit Richard Lakos

The communication of the story is fantastic, with each character sincerely portraying their characters, drawing us into their web of violence and willingness of death in the face of losing their love. The adaption is fantastic, with Romeo strutting about (perhaps a little too much, for me) in a bomber jacket and jeans, and the pompous Tebaldo sporting a trench coat and scarf. They text, talk on their phones and bristle with anger between the flickering lights, which gives a stark contrast to the beautiful sounds emerging from their throats. The ‘subtitles’ are projected onto the wall in the style of an early black and white film. They jar delightfully with the music, giving us interpretations like, ‘Romeo, you shit’ and ‘I’ll take on all of you.’

When Giulietta is promised to Tebaldo by her father, she is desperate to find a way to be with Romeo. Lorenzo provides the fateful pill that will send her into a borrowed likeness of death, where Romeo will see her one last time. The scene in the tomb was eerily beautiful, giving a sombre moment amongst the brash fighting of the two families.

Andrew Tipple as Capellio was a commanding leader, never giving in to the stabs of pity. Cliff Zammit-Stevens as Tebaldo had a great swagger, and I even felt sorry for him as the story progressed. Alice Privett must have been exhausted as Giulietta, who veers from one tragic thought to the other, never really benefiting from the love she so desperately clings to. The power of her voice, especially when coupled with Flora McIntosh as Romeo was captivating. Matthew Palmer as Lorenzo had a wonderful tone, and I was probably most sympathetic to him, desperate for peace in a world full of anger.

Moving and tragic, Pop-Up Opera are proving that opera can be powerful, local and commercial. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to witness.

​​

Bellni’s I Capuleti E I Montecchi

★★★★

Guest Review by Sarah Tinsley

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s