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Okay, it’s not great art, but having snatched a Best New Opera Olivier Award for La Boheme a couple of years back, Aussie-born director Adam Spreadbury-Maher continues making opera accessible with his latest adaptation for OperaUpClose, an irreverent take on Verdi’s A Masked Ball.

Originally composed in 1858/59 and inspired by the assassination of a Swedish monarch several decades earlier, this primarily comedic version relocates events to the premises of a store called Ballo, an IKEA clone specialising in flatpack furniture.

Manager Riccardo is in love with checkout operator Amelia, who’s married to his best friend, assistant store manager Renato. Grudge-bearing cleaner Tom hates his boss and wants him dead, complaints advisor Ulrica has a side-line in fortune-telling and, instead of the original page, we get male PA Oscar (a “mincing fairy” with a penchant for gold spandex party wear) singing soprano.

Accompanied by a solo pianist, the voices are predominantly clear and confident (though in this small space the singer closest to you sometimes threatens to drown out the rest) and although the adaptation doesn’t always quite fit, this is a fun way to enjoy opera free from the formality (and expense) of conventional interpretations.

Kings Head Theatre, Upper Street, N1 1QN
Tube | Angel
Till May 25
£10- £25.00
kingsheadtheatre.com

Photo: Christopher Tribble


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Ballo - theatre review: Kings Head Theatre, Angel
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