Some like it (Red) Hot
In almost a century of exhaustively open-minded modernism and fusion madness, we have seen tenors accompanying helicopters (try Stockhausen's Helicopter String Quartet) and sopranos headbaning with metal bands (try Nightwish). Classically trained hunks in smart suits, like Il Divo, now harmoniously carve their way into collective pop mentality.
Adding some earthy sensuality and artistic versatility to an all-time classic repertoire, Red Hot Opera events choose intimacy instead to tap into their audience's senses.
For their “Magical Mix of Opera & Broadway Favourites”, on the evening of the 18 of May, St Sepulchre Without Newgate church provided the atmospheric backdrop. Leading soprano Kate Radmilovic (who recently shined as “Carlotta” in Andrew Lloyd Weber's Phantom of the Opera, among various other operatic engagements) had invited Finnish bass-baritone Tuomas Pursio as her musical companion for the night, in a series of accomplished international guests that join her on occasion.
Wine was added generously in the foyer to ease guests towards some relaxing afterwork chat.
Soon, the soft light emanating from lanterns hanging high in Neil Sheriff's elegant décor lured everybody into their seats in the main hall, in the mood for music.
Saxophonist Heather Hoyle was in charge of warming up the crowd with an easy-listening mix, comprised of jazz classics like “Take Five”. It was her alluring walk among guests in a long red dress, though, that really turned heads.
Heather's eclectic welcome was a hint that we weren't in for our average opera night.
Kate Radmilovic soon made a dramatic entrance, meeting with Tuomas Pursio on the duet La Ci Darem La Mano from Mozart's Don Giovani, followed by choices, from Faust to Sweeney Todd, that ticked all the boxes for a classy opera night. Our absolute favourite, a cheeky and playful rendition of "Papageno and Papagena", the meeting of two lovebirds from Mozart's Magic Flute. Radmilovic's voice expertly rose goose-bumps, her warm presence also making her tangible to her audience.
But here opera was also paired up with Sani Muliaumaseali's and Jamie Thompson's recitations raising eternally lingering questions on love and heartache; with Camilla Bates' and Dan Holley's flirtatious dances, under the piano accompaniments of Claire Pasquier Wilson; and with some sporadic creatures in masks, that helped to enhance the mystery in St Sepulchre Without Newgate.
Red Hot Opera served the mutual flow and love of all arts, not restricting itself to any one category. There was vocal dexterity and sexy sax, dramatic insight and romantic dancing, a historic regimental flag and Chinese paper lanterns, all in one.
Precious things met with familiar things – and there was always some odd performer appearing out of nowhere, even during the break, making Red Hot Opera something beautiful that you don't just have to look at, but be part of.
An interesting concept that surely needs more space to evolve and tune up, as interlacing multiple arts can be both tricky and complex. But there's a tickling sensation that Red Hot Opera has more to say...