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The Independent Culture
Last Friday, the Tunbridge Wells-based Opera Company opened its new production of Verdi's Rigoletto -

bare-breasted beauties and all - at the Hackney Empire, former host to the Ralph Fiennes Hamlet

I usually come to Smiley's Comedy Club nights on Mondays - with my student card (it's only pounds 2). But tonight I really enjoyed the show and my brother loved the bare breasts, though my mother was a bit worried about all that bonking going on at the back. As a kid, I'd have been absolutely shocked by all the nudity but the kids in the row in front of me didn't seem bothered at all.

Sally Bowling



We wouldn't normally come this far out. It's about an hour's drive for us.But it's very friendly, and it has got easy parking.

Peter Mitchell

Network SouthCentral Operative


I've never been to the Hackney Empire before. I'm a big opera buff, though more of an ENO than a Royal Opera person. I've seen John Rawnsley many times, nearly always as Rigoletto. It was his name on the ads that was the big draw. I think he's absolutely fantastic. My wife was just saying, now we're here, we prefer it - it's much less stuffy. I wouldn't have worn the tie if I'd realised.

I'd always associated Hackney Empire with Afro-Caribbean drama and alternative comedy before. I'd be back for The Magic Flute tomorrow night if I wasn't going to the Fleadh - catholic tastes, you see.

John Roussetty

Motorcycle despatch rider


n 'Rigoletto' is currently on tour to Richmond, Crawley, Brighton, Edinburgh, Tunbridge Wells and Bath