Review: Chorus! The Welsh National Opera at The Mayflower Theatre (25/03/2015)


A definite must for any opera beginner, and something to remember why you love opera, if you're a seasoned fan!

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The first in a threesome of operas brought to Southampton by the Welsh National Opera, Chorus! showcased the talents of singers whose voices are a real and constant asset to the WNO.

As the programme states, Chorus!, the production from David Pountney, “begins with the chorus. Solo actors [come]later.” In my eyes, the production began and ended with the chorus, and even though Lesley Garret’s voice and presence on stage was suitably powerful for a soloist, my eyes and ears were drawn to the larger group whose show this really belonged.

Entertaining visually throughout, the simple dress code of red, black, white, pink and very occasionally a blue or purple, helped to distinguish the themes of each song. Quick costume changes were inventive: where else would you be able to see a drag queen stripped on stage by a horde of women to her red boxer shorts, and then dressed as the Virgin Mary to signify the change into a religious set of operatic songs? Genius, by the way!


This made it even easier to distinguish the storyline from the songs, which were an accumulation of chorus tunes lifted from famous operas, ranging from War and Peace to Pirates of Penzance. 

An opera beginner I had my reservations, worried that I wouldn’t recognise many songs or be able to follow the opera properly, but thanks to the costumes and the digital prompter at the top of the stage, translating foreign lyrics to English i understood. I found myself drawn in, enthralled, and when it was time to leave, pleasantly enthusiastic about the possibility of seeing another production by the Welsh National Opera.

The Welsh National Opera will be performing The Magic Flute! followed by Hansel and Gretel at the Mayflower for their Spellbound season.


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