CLASSICAL MUSIC / Mark Pappenheim On Classical Music

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Nobody seriously expects the likes of Barbra Streisand or Michael Jackson to turn up and play at their local leisure centre. As everyone knows, if it's the full works you're after, you've got to go to Wembley to get it. Yet when it comes to opera, everyone seems to think it ought to be available on tap on their own doorsteps. And, these days, there is no shortage of small-scale companies eager to oblige, filling the nation's smallest spaces with cut-down, chorusless, reorchestrated revamps of the popular classics, all under the banner of 'Immediacy, Intimacy and Accessibility'. And hurrah for all three.

Yet, while it's happily true that such radically overhauled revisions of the operatic rep can often deliver a stronger theatrical punch than anything on display at Covent Garden (I mean, have you seen the new Aida, with its choral catwalk straight out of the Fry's Turkish Delight ads?), let's not pretend that music theatre and opera are the same thing. After all, no one would confuse seeing Streisand at Wembley with watching her soundalike on Stars in Their Eyes at home on TV.

One company, though, that plays fast and loose with the operatic heritage, and doesn't pretend to do otherwise, is Opera Circus. Inspired in equal measure by the physicality of Theatre de Complicite, the traditional techniques of the commedia dell'arte and the tutelage of the mime artist David Glass, Opera Circus is currently in residence at the Tricycle for three weeks with two shows: Shameless] - an adult entertainment marrying an 'immoral tale' by Brecht with the new realism of Otto Dix and choice cuts from Mozart, Verdi, Rossini et al - and Kill Me I Love You] . . . too - a rollercoaster ride through the highs and lows of grand opera. With minimal sets and maximum energy, the message here is 'immediacy, intimacy, accessibility' - and no pretence.

Opera Circus at the Tricycle Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Road, NW6 (071-328 1000)

(Photograph omitted)

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