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Review: La Périchole at Garsington Opera
I NEVER knew that opera could be so funny. I was laughing throughout the performance of La Périchole at Garsington Opera in Wormsley.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience from getting dressed up in my finery to going to the fabulous Wormsley estate.
It is the second year the opera has been at the estate near Stokenchurch and it is clearly a formula which works well.
The opera is staged in a magnificent pavilion which is put up each year for the season. It has just won three awards from the RIBA for its architectural excellence, the South Client of the Year Award, and the South Building of the Year.
It seats 600 and gives wonderful views of the beautiful countryside.
But what about the opera? It was wonderful. It was professional, beautifully staged and the singers were amazing.
I think my favourite part of it was the humour though, which was so silly in some places you could not help but laugh.
It follows the story of the Viceroy of Peru as he tries to find out from his townspeople what they really think of him. But two of the men who work for him, Don Pedro and Panatellas, have already gone into the town of Lima and paid residents to talk highly of Viceroy.
Despairing he falls in love with a street performer called Périchole, who has not been asked to lie, and who tells him exactly what she thinks of the Viceroy. Her boyfriend, Piquillo, has gone to sing to try and earn money and it is while he is away that the viceroy offers Périchole a meal and money if she will come to the palace with him. But to go to the palace she must get married to someone else first.
This is where it all starts to get messy. The viceroy demands Don Pedro and Panatellas to find someone to marry her, who turns out to be Piquillo, who believes that Périchole has left him.
They are both forced to get drunk as neither wants to marry, not knowing they would in fact marry each other. And this all happens in the first half!
The second half was even funnier as Piquillo is locked up followed by Périchole and they try to escape with the help of another prisoner, who is just mad.
Special mention has to go to Naomi O’Connell (Périchole) and Robert Murray (Piquillo) who were both excellent.
This Jacques Offenbach opera was first performed in 1868, which baffles me as the ideas and story seem so modern in many ways. Opera is not just for a select few. It is accessible to all.
Especially as even though it was sang in English there are still subtitles. Garsington Opera is a unique experience and one I would recommend.
The season runs until July 3. Don Giovanni and L’Olimpiade are the other operas being performed. To book go to www.garsingtonopera.org.
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