Review by Peter Tromp
Of all the words generally used to describe opera, I’m not sure if the word “fun” makes an appearance that often. In his evocation of the madcap antics of the venal wealthy of Europe in Rossini’s comic opera, director Matthew Wild at times goes quite broad – almost slapstick – and the end result is exactly that: fun. Wild, delirious fun.
This isn’t ‘High School Musical’, or an episode of TV’s ‘Glee’, though. There are times when ‘Il Viaggio a Reims’ is communicating very serious themes about sincerity in the face of bloated self-absorption, but it always does so with a spring in its step. It’s a wonderfully imaginative concoction that successfully melds the modern with the classical, and also does a great job of doing what an opera is fundamentally supposed to do: give one awe inspiring moments of musical beauty.
Much of the success of the opera can be attributed to the casting. It verges on the astonishing that in an ensemble this large – with no obvious lead – one cannot point to one miscasting. If the singers assembled on stage are an indication of the operatic talent we can look forward to in the next couple of decades, then I think the medium will be in good hands.
The fun that the audience is experiencing seems to be shared by the cast. That’s the wonderful thing about these Cape Town Opera/UCT Opera School collaborations. There may be moments where the production isn’t quite as slick as the all-professional casted Cape Town Opera productions, but it’s maybe this looseness – a Wild abandon to just go for it – that makes them such joyful experiences, ultimately.
Don’t miss the final two performances.
* Book for the final two performances at the Baxter Theatre on Friday, August 29, at 7.30pm; and Saturday, August 30, at 6pm by clicking HERE .