Tosca and La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini are masterpieces and some purists will say that they are not to be mucked about with; I have to disagree. Opera Undone have been careful and cleverly and radically distilled them by writers David Eaton and Adam Spreadbury-Maher taking both Tosca and La Boheme to 60 minutes each and, now that they are sung in English, creating a revolutionary new production which tears up the opera rule book for a whole new generation.
Puccini requires perfect pitch and passionate vocals and sopranos Honey Rouhani and Fiona Finsbury, tenors Roger Paterson, Phillip Lee and Roberto Barbaro and lastly Michael Georgia and Hugo Herman Wilson as baritones, belt out the numbers with an air of high melodrama, and with a certain amount of arrogance and comedy.
This is also a fascinating way to see grand operas up close with world class singers. You can literally see their throats warble and their spittle spray. The two operas are also performed with an air of elegance and sophistication which results in the audience laughing their heads off in this paradoxically intimate venue and very limited set. No grandeur here.
Tosca is an electrifying tale of love, lies and abuse set in a re-imagined 1940’s New York and our hero and his lover are trapped in a relationship with a Mafia boss that leads to a deadly game of cat and mouse.
La Boheme is reinstated into a London of today with two gay men bitching about chemsex, heartache bitterness and revenge and a rather interesting focus on navigating the emotional complexities of a polyamorous relationship.
The two pieces work well on all levels resulting in a glorious show of talent. Not at all gloomy and prove that revenge can be ravishing, rousing and riveting – a theme current in both operas. Soap writers of today should take note and perhaps adapt these stories. Marvellous!
Photos by Ali Wright