Theatre Review: OperaShots at The Royal Opera House

Two new short operas written by Stewart Copeland, former drummer with The Police, and Monty Python star Terry Jones bring new verve to the genre.

OPERASHOTS is a double bill of new short operas showing in The Royal Opera House’s studio theatre.

First up is The Tell-Tale Heart, based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story about a man’s descent into madness after murdering his lodger because of the shrill blue-ness of his eyes. With both book and lyrics written by Stewart Copeland (former drummer and founder member of The Police) this is not what you would normally expect from a night at the opera.

The whole tale is told by a cast of five in little over thirty minutes; the result is a concise, dramatic, slightly gruesome and thoroughly enjoyable burst of entertainment, perfectly suited to both seasoned and debutante opera-goers alike.

Less successful is the post-interval piece The Doctor’s Tale, composed by Anne Dudley (who won an Oscar for her score for The Full Monty) with librettist Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame).

The premise is a surreal one - a devoted and well-loved doctor is ordered to stop practising by the General Medical Council because he is a dog. To start with this is cause for a good deal of humour.

The performances are strong, especially Sadhbh Dennedy and Michael Bracegirdle - two stunning voices, and it is sharply and wittily designed. But the joke begins to wear thin quite quickly and one is left wondering what more there is too say on the subject. The whole cast attack the piece with verve, but it fails to pack the same punch as The Tell-Tale Heart.

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A great way for newcomers to get a taste of what opera is all about.

* Showing at ROH2, Linbury Studio Theatre, in Covent Garden, until Saturday, April 16.