This was billed as a one-act comedy opera that should appeal to those who are new to opera as it is short, sung in English, and does not take itself too seriously. I love the quote from Anton Chekhov in 1888 “I’ve managed to write a stupid vaudeville which, owing to the fact that it is stupid, is enjoying surprising success”.
It was a new opera to me, but we were particularly keen to see it as it is performed by Mid Wales Opera Small Stages team and performed in the recently-renovated old Coliseum theatre now part of Ceredigion Museum. We were not disappointed with either the opera or the venue.
Mme Popova is mourning the death of her husband a year ago, vowing to be true to his memory and never to leave the house (although she does list his infidelities and is regularly swigging vodka from a hidden bottle). But a grumpy salesman comes to collect a debt owed by her husband, which she cannot pay, so after lots of arguing opera-style they agree to a duel though neither of them can shoot a pistol. Basically, they fall in love and the servant winces in embarrassment as they embrace.
There is an interval now, as the play is finished, but do not be tempted to leave just yet. It is worth staying to see Tatyana’s Party Pieces, little cameos of song and poetry. The best is the rich tones of the tenor, each operatic phrase he sings translated and explained in words – that is, he sings a lot of words to say “a camel is approaching”, repeats more phrases to say “a second camel is approaching”. A satirical comment on what we often think of as opera – lots of noise to actually say very little, or to repeat the same thing over and over.
Worth looking out for their small Stage performances as they take place in small theatres, Church Halls or Village Halls around Wales giving a much more intimate feel to the experience. For us, there was the added value of seeing a performance in this magnificent, tiny Victorian theatre with the bonus of a small bar available too. (note photo of theatre only from phone so not good quality)