As a music lover I wholly endorse removing musical snobbery and making every genre accessible to every person with ears, even those that think they don’t want to listen.
My first experience of Opera opening its arms was watching a production of La Boheme in the Cock Tavern, a pub in Kilburn that once answered “red or white” when my mum asked what wine they had.
Under the guidance of James Hurley, Peroni have teamed up with the ridiculously talented Kwes to produce another unique approach to opera. On Saturday I experienced it in a well-polished square off Hampstead Road instead of the sticky carpets of (my well-loved) Kilburn.
For those of you unaware of Kwes his musical CV reads like a festival line up. Remixes for Hot Chip, Zero 7 and Damon Albarn’s Monkey opera. Collaborations with Ghostpoet, The XX and DELS, producing Speech Debelle’s second album.
Last year he was part of Oxfam’s DRC music project, travelling to the Republic of Congo with Damon Albarn and T-E-E-D.
In 2011 he signed to Warp Records, and released his EP Meantime in April this year. Right now he’s possibly the most current diverse and busiest (not to mention charming) man in the record industry.
This event showcased three tracks in a very lose, inclusive and what cleverly felt like a spontaneous performance. Only those keeping an eagle eye out for the start of the songs would have spotted the performers creep in and scatter themselves under the canopy for the evening. Considering Peroni kept us well fed with canapés I suspect most eyes were on the olives, so the first tinkling of the piano would have been a pleasant surprise.
The performers were utterly faultless, bottles were smashed, shoes were lost, bars were danced upon (making it not unlike a regular night in the Cock Tavern) and powerful operatic voices were pitch perfect for excerpts from La Boheme and La Traviata.
For Opera di Peroni Kwes has reimagined Doretta’s Beautiful Dream (“Chi il bel sogno di Doretta) from La Rondine. The final track to play during the evening, where he humbly tiptoed on to the stage to accompany the pianist. It seemed to me his countenance is part anxious and serious, but the twinkle in his eye is that of a man very much self-assured and certain of the depth and breadth of his talent.
The lights turn a dusky blue, and the love story scatters across the ceiling, tears are in the performer’s eyes. It is so genuine and heartfelt, I felt myself holding my breath and others around me do the same.
It will leave you wanting more, it felt like it was over so quickly. But perhaps that’s the point. That it makes you leave with a heavy heart, eager to know the complete story and not just fragmented moments from some of Italy’s most famous and well-loved opera’s. “But the story is simple! What could this girl be dreaming about? And how does her story end? One day a young man kissed her….”
Opera di Peroni will be in Birmingham July 11-12, Manchester July 18-19, Liverpool August 15-16 and Glasgow August 22-23.
For more info visit www.operadiperoni.com