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All About That Tenor, No Soprano


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Being invited to a comedy opera left me feeling slightly concussed. The amalgamation of two art forms not typically associated together to form a concert performed by Sol3 Mio.

The three piece Samoan opera group redefined my expectations of what opera is, which lead me onto thinking: is opera still important and relevant?

Sol3 Mia

Having been my second opera, with my first being Chorus (sort of a “best of opera” show) by the Welsh National Opera, I knew a couple of things would be clear.

1) Being young would leave me receiving cold looks from the lady two rows in front who clearly needs a Werther’s Original or two.

2) Expect a lot of gowns with sequins and the scent of soap.

3) I would be blown away.

Opera is far more versatile and multi-dimensional than first thought. The WNO, for example, used strobe lighting during a Shostakovich piece and suspended singers in the air to Verdi. What I was about to witness would change my conceptions on the art form even more.

Opera is more than just Pavarotti and Susan Boyle.

Sol3 Mio (named after the infamous Aria commonly associated with the Cornetto advert), consisted of two Tenors and a Baritone and introduced the show with the promise of a “musical rollercoaster”, inviting members of the audience to laugh and cry as they please. Both happened with my plus one crying in sync with the majority of others at the end of the first half.

Songs, including a Jeff Buckley cover, would be aided with the stories and contextual information behind them, making opera that little bit more accessible for the audience members (me) who know near on nothing on the art form.

The trio explained how the week before they visited a fan who was dying of cancer to perform to her with her remarking how she was ready to go now they had sang to her.

Sol3 Mio then explained that she passed away a few days ago before performing a lump-in-the-throat forming song.

The evening was hilarious and I found myself biting my lip to prevent an inexhaustible blurt of laughter. The multiple standing ovations were deserved.

There’s always a flurry of opera within the mainstream, usually in the form of a watered down talent show on Saturday night TV or cringeworthy insurance adverts.

In order to survive, opera and other forms of high culture – ballet and theatre – need to accommodate younger generations instead of scaring them off.

Most theatres and cultural venues offer student stand-by schemes and first night schemes offering cheaper and discounted tickets for students. Honestly, make the most of them. High culture is as relevant and important as it always has been, but faces a turning point and must change if it retains such relevance.

Grazia Maestro.

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