Unexpected Opera to Bring New Series - OPERA NAKED THE CHAT SHOW to St. James Studio, April-July 2014

Unexpected Opera to Bring New Series - OPERA NAKED THE CHAT SHOW to St. James Studio, April-July 2014

Following on from the successful run of Opera Naked at the St. James Studio last year, Unexpected Opera presents a new series - Opera Naked the chat show - a series of zesty operatic cabaret shows, spiked with comedy. Written and directed by Lynn Binstock with Tony Harris, the first series of chat shows includes:

Carmen Chatter - Saturday 5 April at 8pm/Sunday 6 April at 3pm

The Boys from Boheme - Thursday 1 May at 8pm/Friday 2 May at 8pm

Opera Queens - Thursday 5 June at 8pm / Sunday 8 June at 3pm

Traviata Tells All - Sunday 20 July at 3pm/ Thursday 24 July at 8pm

Host Tony LaScala meets famous opera characters, with explosive consequences, sublime singing, spine-tingling stories and raucous fun. The singers are interviewed in character, with arias and scenes woven seamlessly into the conversations. All the familiar elements of chat shows will be there: topical humour, cheeky questions, confrontations and audience participation. After the interval the singers return to talk about their experiences of singing opera and take questions from the audience before presenting their own favourite arias and explaining their passion for them.

Carmen Chatter launches the new series with host Tony Harris, our resident comic, as the New York mobster host interviewing Bizet's wild temptress Carmen (Adriana Festeu / Katie Bray) in a revealing encounter with her former lover Don José (Paul Hopwood / Alex Tsilogiannis).

UNEXPECTED OPERA takes a fresh approach to opera, specialising in operatic cabaret, creating inventive shows which attract wider audiences to opera and provide a refreshing alternative for regular opera-goers. Like traditional cabaret, operatic cabaret is a compilation of musical numbers performed by artists who also talk to the audience, led by an MC. For Unexpected Opera, however, opera extracts are the foundation of a thematic framework which enlightens the audience whilst entertaining them. With plenty of variety and humour, operatic cabaret is inviting, inclusive and accessible. The press and audience response to Unexpected Opera's flagship production Opera Naked confirms the value of this new approach.


Address: St. James Studio, 12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA

Dates: 5/6 April, 1/2 May, 5/6 June, 20/24 July. Times vary.

Ticket Prices: £18.50 / £22.50

Box Office: 020 7529 0333

Website: www.stjamestheatre.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/stjamesstudio

Twitter: www.twitter.com/st_jamesstudio

Director Lynn Binstock has directed operas in the UK, USA and Germany including Turandot, Don Giovanni (Seattle), Nixon in China, Telemann's Orpheus (Freiburg), and her 4-in-1 showpiece Heroic Handel (English National Opera, Buxton Festival). Most recently she wrote and directed Unexpected Opera's Opera Naked. Other productions for Unexpected Opera include The Barber of Savile Row (2008 & 09 tours), Orpheus Down Under (2010 tour) and A Pastoral Messiah (tours in 2009, 2011 & 2012/13). Lynn's 2012 adaptation and production of Edward German's Merrie England for Opera South received a 5-star review in Opera Now. Her Count Ory (Rossini) for OS garnered 4 stars, and she returns for La Traviata in 2014.

An Associate and Assistant Director at the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Scottish Opera for more than 20 years, Lynn was Head of Staff Directors at ENO for 7 years, after which she became Artistic Administrator for the company's Jerwood Young Singers Programme. Lynn has produced education projects for all of the UK''s major opera companies (ROH, ENO, Glyndebourne, WNO and Opera North). Originally from the USA, Lynn came to the UK as a Marshall Scholar and completed a D.Phil. at New College, Oxford. She is now a British citizen.

Musical Director Robert Bottriell is Co-Director of Postgraduate Opera Scenes at Trinity College of Music as well as staff accompanist and répétiteur for the Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Robert made his Wigmore Hall debut accompanying Julian Bliss in 2010. He was recently appointed Musical Director for 'Opera À La Carte' together with its sister company 'Regents Opera'.


Mezzo-soprano Adriana Festeu graduated with a first-class honours degree at the "Gheorghe Dima" Music Academy, Romania. In 2009 she completed her Masters with Distinction at the Royal Academy of Music Opera Course. She continues her studies with Lillian Watson. Adriana made her debut for the Romanian National Opera in 2005 as Fidalma in Cimarosa's Il matrimonio segreto. In 2008 she sang Candida in Donizetti's Emilia di Liverpool for the European Opera Centre. For Royal Academy Opera, she has sung Endimione La Calisto and Diana La Fedelta Premiata.

For Garsington Opera, Adriana has covered three roles including Cenerentola. She has performed the roles of Marianna Il Signor Bruschino and Lucilla La Scala di Seta for British Youth Opera. Other recent roles include Suzuki Madam Butterfly, Rosina The Barber of Seville, the Sorceress Dido and Aeneas, Isolier Count Ory, the title role in Carmen and the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, conducted by Elgar Howarth. Recently, Adriana won the Czech Song Prize in the Emmy Destinn Competition.

British mezzo-soprano Katie Bray is fast establishing a colourful international career, most recently engaged as Lazuli in New Sussex Opera's production of L'Étoile, and as cover Cherubino Le Nozze di Figaro in McVicar's production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Sir John Eliot Gardiner).

Katie graduatated as a Karaviotis Scholar from the opera course at the Royal Academy of Music, and was awarded the 2012 Principal's Prize. Taught by Elizabeth Ritchie and Iain Ledingham, she won First Prize in the Academy's prestigious Richard Lewis Singing Competition in 2011. In 2012, Katie made her solo débuts with Glyndebourne Festival Opera and English Touring Opera, and in 2013, she joined Opera North as Nancy in Giles Havergal's production of Albert Herring. Future engagements include a recording of Zemlinsky's Opus 13 with Trevor Pinnock, and an appearance in the Loch Shiel Festival in May 2014. Katie is represented by Rayfield Allied.

Paul Hopwood (tenor) was an English teacher until he succumbed to a moment of unguarded bohemianism and took a postgraduate place at the Guildhall. He then embarked on a freelance career, singing roles from the barely noticeable to the worryingly megalomaniac: Aurelios, in the sci-fi opera Aurelios, Master of the Universe. Six years ago, Paul sang Rossini in the Coliseum in Aberdare. He recently made his ENO debut as Gastone in La Traviata and performs this year in Der Rosenkavalier at Glyndebourne. This clearly counts as career development, so Paul can call himself an 'emerging artist', which makes him sound more exciting and draws attention from his diminishing hairline.

Alex Tsilogiannis (tenor) first trained as a pilot and still looks like one. But he was bored, so he went to the Guildhall to earn his MPerf, MMus and Opera Course diplomas. Recent roles: Alfredo La Traviata (Regents Opera), George Gibbs Our Town (European Premiere), Fenton Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (GSMD), Lysander A Midsummer Night's Dream (Barbican), Edgardo (cover) Lucia di Lammermoor (Clonter Opera). Future plans: concerts and recitals as a soloist, events with his 'three tenors' group, Tenorissimi, and Pinkerton for Regent's Opera.

Tony Harris (resident comic) has spent several years playing Henry VIII around the UK, but is happy to rejoin the world of opera where his talents have been appreciated by audiences and critics alike who have presented him with over-ripe fruit and death threats. He also tours with his comedy double-act 'Tim and Tony Strange' when not in Hastings, where he lives with his long-suffering wife, baby daughter and two cats. Unexpected Opera is delighted to have him back, because he owns a big car and can help with transportation.

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