Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: (Victoria) Let's Make an Opera and The Little Sweep

(photo by David Bukash)
Let's Make the Audience Sing
Cute, but not what you might call “high art.”
by Spencer Malthouse

In a first-time pairing, Pacific Opera Victoria and The Belfry theatre have united to present a sweet little production of Let's Make an Opera and The Little Sweep. The show might be called a meta-theatrical study of the creative process. More appropriately, however, it is a lighthearted introduction to opera for children and families.  

This play/operetta is a nursery tale on stage acted by children and opera singers. It is entertaining in that the actors are lively, the children adorable, and the singing pleasant. The plot could be followed by a six-year-old. In the first scene, the players set about creating the opera. This exposition is insightful but also very simple. The operetta itself is a children's cartoon set in 1810 – imagine Sound of Music but without the Nazis, love story, or strife. 

The opera singers all have beautiful voices. They all also have atrocious English accents. Their exaggerated acting is suitable for the operatic stage but not, perhaps, for more intimate spaces. Conversely, the children could at times barely be heard. Giuseppe Pietaroia (not an actor) conducts the orchestra and the audience for the four singalongs. Being taught the songs was tedious, but the singing was rather fun. 

Britten intended this play for community halls, not for major theatres. $30 a ticket is a bit steep for a group opera lesson. Nonetheless, the production does make for an enjoyable afternoon or evening. If you like audience participation and can stomach the price, I recommend this simple play for its charming joviality if not for its artistic merit.

Let's Make an Opera and The Little Sweep plays at The Belfry Theatre March 7 and 8 at 7:30 and March 9 at 1:30.   

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