Otago Daily Times

Great display of local talent


The Baritone Must Die

Opera Otago Marama Hall Friday, November 20

OPERA Otago has a twonight substitute for 2020 cancelled production­s, and last evening at Marama Hall I enjoyed “The Baritone Must Die” — a potpourri of operatic favourites, 20 in all, fashioned into a wacky “NotFlix” farce, built around an amorous baritone (tall, dark and handsome, of course) who trawls dating sites.

This themed musical treat was assembled by Tessa Romano and Rushi Vyas, who also “play themselves” as they settle to watch TV with the obligatory bowl of popcorn, hoping to enjoy their choice of a movie with romantic twist.

The cast also use their own names.

Baritone is Scott Bezett, his flatmate Lillian Gibbs, her two friends Olivia Pike and Rhiannon Cooper (sopranos).

Tessa Romano also doubles as a drunken barmaid, and piano accompanis­t is Mark Wiggleswor­th.

The “movie” plays out with the stage divided to represent a student flat and a bar.

The plot unfolds and the baritone is caught out simultaneo­usly dating two women who just happen to be good friends.

Popular arias are sung at strategic moments in the storyline.

Among them were La ci arem la mano (Give Me Your Hand), Ein Madchen oder Weibchen (A Lady or a Wife) (Mozart), Johnny (Britten) and Think of Me Lloyd Webber).

Sentiments expressed in Delibes’ The Flower Duet from Lakme proved very appropriat­e, as was the emotive delivery of Toothbrush Time from William Bolcom’s

Cabaret Songs .

Therapy from Tick, Tick, Boom by Larson and Ah quell diner (Offenbach) were highlights.

There is an unexpected twist during the duet Agony from

Into the Woods (Sondheim).

L’Amour Triomphe (Gluck) brought a satisfacto­ry finale, then we were left to discover whether the TV viewing couple enjoyed their movie or not, and the “credits rolled” to

Soave sia il vento from Mozart’s

Cosi Fan Tutte.

A great showcase of quality local talent, it was most enjoyable and well worth support by opera fans.

“The Baritone Must Die” plays again this evening in Marama Hall.

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