Cinderella, King's Head, Islington, London
Mozart Unwrapped, Kings Place, London

Rossini's panto-opera froths like a good pint, but Mozart is positively overflowing in 2011

Dizzy with the success of its bedsit Bohème, Opera UpClose floundered in its first show at the King's Head in Islington.

Rossini in the style of Jane Austen was more tea-room than pub theatre, with a Barber of Seville relocated to Salisbury. So much for attracting new audiences to opera, I thought. Yet the cosy village-panto vibe has served the company well. Londoners love to think of themselves as villagers. And tickled by Tony Britten's hyperlocal translation, with its references to Carluccio's and the Northern Line, and the inspired rhyming of Ocado with Abbado, whole Islington families settled in for Emma Rivlin's Cinderella.

The show is set up long before the the first notes of Rossini's Overture (played with hangdog determination by pianist Andrew Macmillan). Pay attention to the homeless man outside the pub, for he is Alidoro (James Gower), the magician and matchmaker. Unimpressed by the headshots and CVs of eligible young ladies who have responded to his lonely hearts advertisement, Prince Ramiro (Christopher Diffey) resolves to trade places with his servant Dandini (Tom Bullard) in order to find a sweetheart among the social climbers. But when he is tipped-off about a suitable girl in the house of Don Magnifico (Gerard Delrez), he is met by Clorinda (Emily Ward) and Tisbe (Sian Cameron) – ugly sisters in spirit if not in appearance or voice, with a father to match.

Rossini's subversiveness is often overstated – the target here is the nouveau riche – but his heroines are reliably and endearingly grumpy. As Cinderella, Sylvie Bedouelle finds a lovely balance between sulkiness, sarcasm and sweetness, singing with poise and style, most particularly in the tender "No, no, no, no, no!" of the transformation scene, where she arrives at the pub on a white bicycle decked with fairy lights, and locks eyes with a doubly-dazzled Ramiro. Staged in the bar, with the singers scrambling on to tables, pushing through the audience and casual drinkers, Rossini's Act I finale fizzes and bubbles with rough brilliance. Just don't wear white.

These are young singers, some of them more blessed with chutzpah than technique, but Cinderella recaptures the magic of Robin Norton-Hale's Bohème (that production returns to the Soho Theatre this week). If the arias are unfinished, the ensembles are pleasingly tight. Julia Berndt's set design is little more than a washing line, strung up with some saucy undies from costume designer Alexandra Kharibian, but the whole has a scratchy, scrappy, studenty charm. The invocation of Ocado, though amusing, is revealing of the distance travelled from the original Cock Tavern, Kilburn Bohème, in which Mimi's little hat came from Primark. Social climbing? Perhaps. Will the children of Islington be expecting surround-sound Rossini when they're of an age to visit the pub on their own? Either way, let's hope the parents get a babysitter for the company's Bangkok, chick-with-a-dick Madama Butterfly, of which more next week.

So to Mozart. Day One of BBC Radio 3's binge-broadcast (see Radio, facing page) presaged the marzipanned hyperbole to come, as the announcer claimed that the bittersweet A minor Rondo (K511) was the first to break with 18th-century harmonic convention, conveniently forgetting C P E Bach. Soon enough, the merest mention of "charming minuets" had me reaching for Radio 4. Never have I been so well informed about compost, consumer rights, and the thoughts of Chris Bryant MP. Could it be that the two stations swapped audiences altogether?

Kings Place launched its own year-long concert series, Mozart Unwrapped, on New Year's Eve, with a dry run of the following day's live broadcast from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and music drawn from the Desert Island Discs playlist. Grind your teeth at seeing Elvira Madigan on the programme if you must. (Has anyone under the age of 80 seen that film?) But fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout's performance of the Piano Concerto No 21 in C major (K467) was deftly and alluringly shaped from the first faint tint of colour in the opening movement to the turbulent melancholy of his cadenzas. Sophie Bevan pitched Exsultate Jubilate as an extended aria for Figaro's Susanna, with merry coloratura and a deceptively demure smile. Clutching his baton in his right hand like a lucky charm, cellist-turned-conductor Jonathan Cohen gestured fleetingly at various phrases with his left. Sadly, the tempi he set in the Symphony No 39 in E flat were so extreme that it was barely possible to register what it was that he had pointed out before the next airy skitter of fingers. Held in the palm of the hall's clear acoustics, bassoonist Peter Whelan was particularly impressive. I wonder if he conducts?

'Cinderella' (0844 477 1000) to 11 Feb. 'Mozart Unwrapped' (020-7520 1490) to 19 Dec. Radio 3's The Genius of Mozart season concludes Wed

Next Week:

Anna Picard looks forward to Janacek, Prokofiev, Berg and Liszt from the irrepressible National Youth Orchestra

Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence