Review: The Ted Bundy Project at the Ovalhouse Theatre
Watch: Trailer for Helen McCrory's Medea at the National Theatre

Review: Stan goes to her first ever opera - Cosi Fan Tutte by Pop Up Opera

Pop-Up Opera, Cosi, Summer Season 2014 (courtesy Richard Davenport) 091
Production photo by Richard Davenport

OK, so you know I don't like musicals why on earth would I go to an opera? Well, I've been to some musicals and that's why I know they don't do anything for me but I've never been to an opera. And, I do have some opera on my iPod (I don't have any songs from musicals*).

There's a Best of album that is on my regular 'at work' playlist but a few of the most familiar songs is different to watching the whole thing which is why its taken until now for me to see one.

Pop Up Opera had the task of initiating me into the live opera world and, having spent a fun evening in a tiny upstairs room of a pub in Mayfair sat on a antique three-seater sofa, I can say it is a very good entry point. They do a one night only tour around unusual venues (see their website for details) and the cast rotates so you are never going to get quite the same experience twice. These production pictures are of a performance they gave in a church.

I did some prep before I went along, bought a Cosi Fan Tutte highlights albums to familiarise myself although I confess on the night I still only recognised the famous one. In terms of the plot Pop Up Opera hold your hand a little. There is a scene by scene synopsis in the programme and throughout silent movie style captions are projected onto the back wall.

What made this particularly enjoyable is that the captions take a slightly irreverent approach to the story. They acknowledge the fact that the plot and characters behaviour is sometimes a bit silly, particularly to a modern audience and they often raised a laugh.

The performances too had a cheekiness, sometimes involving the audience with a wink or a flirtatious look. It worked brilliantly with the story in which the male half of two couples accept a wager that they can't, while in disguise, seduce each others lovers.

Bear in mind this is my first ever opera, what surprised me is how much acting the singers do. In hindsight it seems so obvious but their faces are so expressive while they sing it really brought the songs and story beautifully to life. It was also so enjoyable to experience such amazing voices 'live' and be in such close proximity.

I'm not going to lie, towards the middle of the second act I was starting to feel like I'd had my fill and I don't think I'm going to be buying tickets for the entire season at the ENO any time soon but I wouldn't rule out going to another - perhaps Pop Up Opera will become an annual event on my culture calander.

* That's not strictly true as I do have one: "Maria" from West Side Story - doesn't make me want to watch the whole thing though.