Chamber Pot Opera

This isn’t an eccentric metaphor or a pseudonym for a filthy cabaret, it is exactly what it says. Three vocalists, a pianist, a female lavatory and a whistle-stop emotional tour of aria-filled theatre.

The Chamber Pot Opera is a must-see for novices and Glyndebourne go-ers alike.

Our three protagonists embody something more than your average stock of witches, bitches or breeches. One has been promoted and arrives laden with champagne, the other enters brandishing her tinder loaded smartphone, the other cradles a full pillbox while examining the bruises from her abusive relationship in the mirror. As every woman knows, female bathrooms can form the unlikeliest of friendships; especially, I’d imagine, when one of them cracks a packet of make-up wipes and a bottle of Moët to the refrain of Carmen’s L’amour.

No time is wasted in introducing some befittingly operatic cold hard subject matter. A suicide attempt in the first five minutes; heavy, and perhaps you could quip that this was the trait of a melodramatic, attention seeking ‘bitches’ role - but Sally Alrich-Smythe’s subtle performance had us genuinely arrested in empathy from the first note of Dido’s Lament. Truly given the justice it requires, it was odd to hear such beauty juxtaposed with an old, 80s loo. Thankfully, the comedy is frequent, and indeed welcomed; but nothing quite tops the vocal performances of this cast. Consistently jaw-dropping, Alrich-Smythe’s performance of Purcell was not without rivalry. Even as Jessica Westcott squatted calculatedly at one side of the room, aiming to bin a used wet-wipe in one from afar, her long glissando as it fell was - like her shot – faultless. Indeed, the idea too of singing a Figaro aria to a disembodied photo of someone on tinder would be abhorrent; but whether the charm of the whole sequence was indebted to the timelessness of Mozart or in fact the show-stopping and comic delivery of Britt Lewis’ lesbian Cherubino, I can’t say. The cast certainly drips musicality, right down to the self page-turning pianist; not an easy feat when there is barely space to powder your nose.

A masterful rendition of the great operatic favourites with some clever theatrical semiotics thrown in to remind us that these women are here to (and will) break gender stereotypes with lipstick-moustaches and lesbians, The Chamber Pot Opera is a must-see for novices and Glyndebourne go-ers alike.

Reviews by Daisy McConnel

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Performances

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The Blurb

In traditional opera, female characters are generally classed as one of three types; they're either witches, bitches or breeches. Chamber Pot Opera skewers this age-old trope, granting its all-female cast the agency, power and potential to tell their own stories, solve their own problems and express themselves in a unique way. The show's contemporary storyline features a survivor of domestic abuse, a queer woman on a first date and a successful female executive. Each of them sing of a shared female experience, creating a show for opera aficionados and novices alike.

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