* ‘The Abduction from the Seraglio harem health spa’
Just as some people judge the arrival of spring by their first sighting of the swallow, Civilian Theatre – rather less inclined to nature – can say with some confidence that if it finds itself crammed into a most unusual location, wineglass wedged between its knees with a soprano hammering away at Top C just a few feet away then it can only mean one thing – Spring and the first show of Pop-Up Opera’s touring season.
A promising first encounter came courtesy of Bizet’s Le Docteur Miracle in Drink, Shop & Do, and the feeling that Pop-Up Opera were a company not to be missed came with a fabulously insouciant Cosi fan Tutte in a Mayfair bar. And as a result I find myself in the stylish surroundings of Robert Kime’s furniture shop for one of Mozart’s lesser known opera’s ‘The Abduction from the Seraglio’.
It is typical of the company that a lot of effort is expended to make a relatively obscure piece of music accessible to those who do not often find themselves frequenting opera houses. Purists may splutter at the idea of a classical piece being updated to include references to big brother, donkey kong and tinder but it is important that this doesn’t come at the expense of the music.
Pop-up Opera’s style is to leave the music to itself and pepper surtitle screens with mostly irreverent commentary. The comedy mainly hits the mark and provides an accessible and modern interpretation of the action that broadly follows the plot but which also recognises that humour occasionally needs to be updated if it will appeal to a modern audience.