Entertainment: Opera

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Very very nice. An unlikely catchphrase, which you end up chanting in spite of yourself after Susannah Self's 'Extraordinary Women'. The scene is a clothes store, the story is compulsive shoplifting. This particular extraordinary woman, Shirley Hopkins, was professional, and driven. You see the trying-on, the relish, the quick bundling into a bag, the moment of panic, then on to the next one. Why did she do it? She can't quite put it into words, but those dresses - now they were really, uh, nice.

Shirley keeps grander company in this show than she is used to. Like Jackie Kennedy, and Maria Callas. Each scene features a woman who was, or is, in some way larger-than-life, or even mythical in stature (Medea features in the cast list too). Susannah Self (right) is all of them, changing before your eyes from one to another. She has picked some of today's most communicative young composers to bring them to life - mostly women.

Each character is etched into a distinctive musical portrait and given a graphic stage presence. The show is a fine feat of vocal and dramatic versatility which leaves strangely haunting resonances: department-store changing rooms will never feel the same again.

(Photograph omitted)

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