Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | L'Italiana in Algeri from Pop Up Opera
Ginger Hibiscus | L'Italiana in Algeri from Pop Up Opera
Ginger Hibiscus | L'Italiana in Algeri from Pop Up Opera
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18 Jun REVIEW: L’Italiana in Algeri from Pop Up Opera

Opera has a bit of a reputation for being something enjoyed only by people of a particular ilk. People over a certain age, suited or gowned with a fine champagne in hand, happily digesting a Michelin-starred dinner in a premium seat. And whilst the glamour and timelessness of a night at the opera is precisely what attracts some to opera houses the world over, like glittering moths to the flame, for numerous others that’s exactly what turns them off. Being an exclusive club where the forfeiture of a weeks rent is obligatory just to get a toe in the door is quite the inhibitor, particularly for just one night, and especially if you don’t quite know if the opera itself will be your thing. Enter: Pop Up Opera, a company dedicated to bringing the art form to audiences across the country in unusual and exciting locations, for an affordable price, and staging a show almost impossible not to enjoy.

Pop Up Opera’s latest offering, Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, translated as The Italian Girl in Algiers, or rather The American-Italian Girl in the Algiers Casino, Las Vegas. brings 19th century Italian opera right up to date, creating something irresistible from something usually stuffy and inaccessible, infusing it with fun and humour. By recontextualising the opera into the modern day USA, Pop Up Opera injects a certain relevance that would otherwise be absent, relevance solidified by some particularly memorable captions that add a colloquial, comedic dimension that proves to be the real game-changer for the show.

Possibly not for you if you’re attached to seeing a faithful representation of Angelo Anelli’s original libretto, Pop Up Opera stage a production rather different to the one that wowed 19th century audiences. But in saying that it’s a show accessible to opera novices certainly isn’t to say it’s poor quality; to the contrary, a unanimously excellent cast put in strong vocal performances throughout, most notably Bruno Loxton as the deliciously disgusting Mustafa, and Helen Stanley as the epitome of “trailer park trash,” Isabella. Whilst delivering a stunning soprano, the youthful vitality of Catrin Woodruff casts a question mark over the casting of her in the role of Elvira, a woman “not quite the Vegas showgirl she once was,” ravaged by jealousy as her husband, Mustafa, sizes up her successor, a description seemingly at odds with the casting and costume choices.

Pretension-free, and bringing the wonderful work of Rossini to an entirely different demographic, Pop Up Opera present a slick and funny production, in some of the most wonderfully obscure locations. Proving that “fun” and “silly” don’t have to be synonymous with “vacuous,” their production of L’Italiana in Algeri can only be described as a must-see for anyone who’s so far only eyed up opera from afar.

For tickets and information:
Dates: 18th June – 6th October 2015

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here