Well, this is the 2nd outing for ‘Opera Presto’ and so far so great with the rehearsals. It’s a training week for young opera singers in their twenties and we’ve ended up with a cracking cast. I’ve written a narrator’s script this time that allows us to abridge the opera heavily and keep the pace perky – still very much in the spirit of Da Ponte, just half the length! Director Tom Bailey’s idea was to set it in the 1920s, à la Downton Abbey, and it seems a perfect setting for an upstairs downstairs sitcom. We’re telling the story through flashbacks, prompted by a ‘sermon’ from the hapless Rev Algernon Perkins, the officiating priest who unwittingly gets caught up in the ‘folle journée’ and falls from grace in the process.
The main challenge? Recitative, of course. Bantering in Italian is not straight forward and getting middle class British folk to sound convincingly like natural Neopolitans is a challenge which I’m relishing. A decent Chianti, liberally shared, will help.
Ok, there is a point of potential confusion here. The opera is set in Seville, written in Italian, and our version puts it in Upton Prior, a sleepy village in the home counties, narrated by a BBC-sounding vicar. Quite a linguistic melée. Thank goodness it’s such a flexible genre.