It’s been a huge hit in Spain and France and now A Comedy of Operas, which combines Opera’s Greatest Hits with physical comedy, is coming to Edinburgh.
The show, which won a Max Award for musical comedy in Spain, was seen in Madrid by the Pleasance artistic director Anthony Alderson, who is bringing it to the EICC as part of the Pleasance programme.
It features six opera singers – a soprano, a tenor, a counter-tenor, a baritone and a mezzo soprano – who promise to make the audience laugh – while singing the world’s greatest arias.
Artistic director Joe O’Curneen says: “It’s a story about a group of performers. It’s a love story. It’s also a story about a group of performers who struggle to connect with the audience.
“It’s a lot of little stories about people who connect with their emotions through the great arias of Puccini, Mozart and others.”
O’Curneen and his co -director David Ottone are confident that the audience will recognise many of the great arias performed – even if they know very little about opera.
Ottone says: “We wanted to create a show that everyone could enjoy”
O’Curneen and Ottone originally intended their company Yllana to focus on physical theatre and comedy – but discovered that by combining comedy with music they had created a winning formula.
They are delighted to be bringing Comedy of Operas to Edinburgh.
Ottone says: “It’s fun, it’s emotional and the costumes and the set are very beautiful.
“Also, if you go to the opera you have to pay a fortune and sit through three hours of performance to hear these songs. With Comedy of Operas you see a condensed one hour with opera’s greatest hits.”
Songs are in Italian, French, Spanish English and German – but are performed without sur titles – relying instead on the international language of music.
O’Corneen says: “Most people don’t understand all the lyrics, but in the context you understand what is going on. You feel the emotion of the singing – so you understand.
“It is an international language of music and emotion.”
As well as famous arias the show also includes songs from the world of musicals and pop – bringing another crowd-pleasing element to the show.
Comedy is also a huge part of the performance – with physical comedy at the core of Comedy of Operas success. In Spain the show was called Opera Locos – Crazy Opera.
O Curneen says: “We started with a group of wonderful singers who had not done comedy – so we had them doing exercises to perform in another genre.”
Yllana have brought shows to Edinburgh before and think the show will be perfect for Fringe audiences. The company decided to build a show around opera classics after the huge international success of its show Pagagnini.
The directors hope the show will be loved by comedy-literate Edinburgh audiences – particularly those looking for an additional splash of highbrow art.
O Curneen says: “You will find everything in the show. You’re going to laugh and at other points you will be crying with emotion. It’s an opportunity to see the best arias almost in sequence.
“We don’t think you’ll find anything like it on the Fringe.”
The only concession the company has made for Edinburgh audiences is to reduce the run time to a lean hour.
“The whole experience is also going to be crammed into sixty minutes – which should make it even more thrilling.”
A Comedy of Operas
August 2 – 27