Flying High – 2001
7th December 2001
In spite of Britten’s work, Let’s Make an Opera, very few children actually get the chance. The real thing is too vocally demanding. Yet, remarkably, W11 Opera is celebrating 30 years, managing chorus batches of 70 kids in annual performances of specially commissioned operas at St James Norlands Church, Holland Park. This year with music by Graham Preskett and text by John Kane, the show is called Flying High – and heads for the Linbury Theatre this weekend.
In effect, this is community opera unamplified and brightly sung, with debts to Sondheim and Bernstein. A backstage drama set in a recording studio, adolescent love is in the air between Bobby Talalay’s affectionate Steve and Lucy Page’s charismatic determined Diva, who make an impressive meal of their climatic duet. In the end, new stars are crowned at the Brit Awards.
No performers are over 16, and boys are, evidently, a vanishing breed. Grown-up male roles involve miraculous artistry with facial hair. Conductor Philip Colman keeps the performance driving forward at a pace. There’s a lot of infectious enthusiasm on stage, wittily choreographed by Bruno Tonioli, while director Justin Young threads the narrative impressively through crowd scenes as busy as Waterloo Station.