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Goodbye 18th-century Italy, hello 20th-century England; Love Opera present a fresh reimagining of Mozart’s Così fan tutte at Bristol’s The Loco Klub. Esther Rosewarne reviews.

Tis’ not a warm world, nor an easy crowd that a small group of Bristol students have decided to tackle; both opera and classical music are notorious—either justifiably or not—for their often pernickety, elitist participants and followers. Difficult to access if one isn’t in the money or the know, and difficult to understand if, like many, your typical live music experiences involve accidentally stumbling upon someone with a guitar in the Balloon Bar.

The show […] creates an audience connection that […] would rival that of any theatre in the capital

However, the team at Love Opera seeks to challenge the notoriety of its genre. Its debut performance of Mozart’s classic, Così fan tutte, is far from a snooty, uber-traditional rendition. From the moment one walks through the grubby doors of The Loco Klub in Temple Meads there is a warm, friendly atmosphere. Audience members sit on rickety benches surrounding the stage area, and are subsequently immersed in Mozart’s witty drama and sublime music, all only feet away from the performers and a full orchestra.

The show is brimming with warm, tender and funny moments; the excitement and passion of each actor creates an audience connection that, once again, would rival any theatre in the capital. The small performance space—and consequent proximity of the singers—allows for a profound emotional depth. The sensitive arias of Charlotte Bateman and Sam Leggett are balanced well with Tom Niesser’s smooth audience interaction and Maya Colwell’s witty, cutting sarcasm in the role of Despina. The drama is accompanied by an updated 1940s setting, and as previously mentioned is performed in The Loco Klub—a quirky, glorified train shed—which all contributes to the invigorating feeling that Love Opera are doing something here that really is different and refreshing.

The splendid overture to Mozart’s opera, first performed in Vienna’s Burgtheater in 1790

The team at Love Opera is small, but have managed everything: not only have the cast members directed and produced the production, but first year Emma Huggett has gone to the lengths of setting up the new company in its entirety. The ambition and scale of the project is not to be underestimated, all in aid of bringing this art form out of the stratosphere and back to the community, where it can be enjoyed by all.

Whilst the production is by no means faultless, the odd fumbled line and mishap with the set somehow adds to the incredible experience of being in an all-encompassing musical bubble for the evening. Love Opera is set to stage more productions in the future, and will hopefully further the work it has started here.

[Love Opera’s] debut performance of Mozart’s classic, Così fan tutte, is far from a snooty, uber-traditional rendition

Classical music has a long way to go in terms of being accessible and inclusive, and this group certainly faces a long road ahead, but this charming production of Così fan tutte has shown promise. If you’re curious, or even if you’ve never considered listening to opera before, watch this space: Love Opera are out to change things.


More information about Love Opera can be found here.

What were your thoughts on the production? Did you Love this Opera? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

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