Kiss Me, Figaro performed at The Scoop (back in June) was a combination of various musical art forms including opera, musicals, jazz, dance choreographies and some interesting costume designs. Although, the newest production of Merry Opera Company, Kiss Me, Figaro performed world-renowned arias and musical pieces from as far back as 400 years ago. The amalgamation of theatre, love, comedy, drama and of course, a happy ending was outstanding – it’s unbelievable that such a show was free to view. John Ramster, Kiss me, Figaro’s director said that he was influenced by his curiosity and intrigue of the backstage life in film such as, Kiss me, Kate! and operas such as Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor to bring together the story of two opera singers, Daisy (Jenny Stafford) and Joe (Thomas Elwin), and their complicated romance in the midst of an small touring opera company, funnily enough.
The introduction with the overture of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro was comical considering the use of all the singers voices to replace an absent orchestra. Teresa Pells and Kathyn Walker in the gala scene was an exquisite duo accompanied by the witty and creative voices of Tristan Stocks and James Williams. Stocks even ran out to the audience dressed as a cherubic cupid. Allistair Ollerenshaw, who acted as the gay baritone engaged in humorous risque acts with Daisy, impressed the audience with his deep lavish timbre. Kirstin Finnigan looked lovely dressed up as a school with pigtails as part of the Mikado scene and somehow perked up Joe with great musical numbers including, ‘All my eggs in one basket’ and ‘Love is the sweetest thing.’
Elwin played the part of the terribly unreliable boyfriend but was easily forgiven by his experienced tenor voice as a remorseful Rodolfo. Stafford’s resounding voice woke up a few heart strings in the audience as Mimì from La bohème The famous ‘O soave fanciulla’ aria sang by the on-stage couple was performed passionately and like something I had seen from a grand opera institution, in my opinion.
The gang put together were inspirational and grabbed the attention of all members of the audience from young kids, people passing by, operagoers and even those new to opera. I managed to drag a friend to the performance who at first had her reservations but ended up enjoying the show more than she had expected.
Merry Opera Company was founded six and a half years ago and has 216 performances which has captivated more than 33,000 people across Greater London and Southern England. Their goal is to open up opera to a broader audience and provide an avenue for up-and-coming opera professionals to train and develop talented singers; this has included over 150 performers. Yet, Merry Opera Company has an added twist, which although includes the operatic art form, creates adaptations that are catered for [people who want] ‘a good night out at the opera’ not ‘a night at the opera – and it’s good for you’.
Despite how small and young the Merry Opera Company are, they were nominated as best Off West End opera and toured Malaysia in 2012 due to their successful experiment of the classical opera, Verdi’s La Traviata. They also stunned audiences with their unique stage version of Handel’s Messiah which has been performed since 2011. In future, I hope to attend more Merry Opera Company productions as I also believe in the ethos that opera and classical music is something that should be shared and enjoyed by all.
For more information on the Merry Opera Company, please go to their website: http://www.merryopera.co.uk/