Opera Naked: Singers' Lives Laid Bare

Warning: this operatic cabaret contains no nudity in spite of its name. In Opera Naked, singers bare their lives and souls, not their bodies. Keeping it simple is the theme here; no posh opera house, no grand orchestra, no fancy props or costumes, no massive choirs. Just a pianist, four singers, their stories and the arias. And masses of energy and talent! They had me from the very first note. Bravo!

They had me from the very first note. Bravo!

The performance began with tenor Anthony Flaum’s captivating prince from Rusalka followed by soprano Joanna Weeks’ touching ‘Un bel di’ from Madame Butterfly. Young baritone Richard Immerglück took on bravely ‘O du, mein holder Abendstern’ from Wagner’s Tannhäuser. What he lacked in habitus, he made up in pipes.

The fourth singer was mezzo Angela Simkin, who shined in ‘Dopo notte’ from Ariodante. The performance of the night went to Joanna Weeks and Richard Immerglück for their Scarpia and Tosca. Weeks’ heartfelt Tosca equals any performance I’ve ever heard. The final ensemble was an energetic showstopper from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.

The cleverly scripted performance alternated between the singers’ life stories, general opera facts done as sketches with the help of comedian Roger Mortimer-Smith, and the arias. The production company Unexpected Opera should be awarded for bringing this great art closer to the people. It’s like picking cherries from a pie – you get the great arias without having to sit through hours of sometimes tedious performances.

All four singers were pitch perfect and on top of their game. You could see, hear and sense their genuine love for opera. Two of them would be ready for any world stage right now. For me the star of the night was Flaum. His lyric tenor burst out with such rigour I was wondering if the delicate walls of the Chapel Royal can handle it. Flaum was born to do the Italian masters; he has the looks, the voice, the cojones. No wonder we’ll be seeing him at the English National Opera next year.

The Chapel Royal made a great venue for this show. Superb acoustics and the church altar as a stage lifted the arias to a whole new level. In fact, this is probably the closest I’ve ever got to divinity in a church. After hearing the inspirational stories and powerful arias we all felt rejuvenated walking out the door. Make sure you catch this cure-for-all-ills show while you still can. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and book some opera tickets.

Reviews by Johanna Makelainen

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

If you’re a stranger to opera, this is the perfect introduction. If you like opera, you’ll love going behind the scenes. Opera Naked combines great music, revealing honesty and playful comedy. Why do some people want to sing opera and what does it take to do it? Discover the naked truth with professional singers whose lives are laid bare by our comic compère. Share their struggles and triumphs while enjoying some of opera’s greatest hits. “Hugely entertaining - the audience lapped it up” (OPERA)