Pop-Up Opera now brings its fresh and irreverent approach to Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto. Premiered in Vienna in 1792, just after Mozart’s death, the work was received with rapture by Leopold II, its dedicatee; once the performers had been fed and watered, Leopold insisted on hearing it all again.
The sunny satire and romantic diversions are delightfully matched with Cimarosa‘s irresistible melodies, and Pop Up adds political jokes and puns as part of the surtitles, Theresa May and Donald Trump appearing alongside Count Robinson, a buffoon in search of a rich Italian bride. His choice falls on Carolina, younger daughter of a Bologna noble who is trying to marry off his eldest, Elisetta, with a big dowry. Carolina is secretly married to Geronimo’s secretary and a touching and hilarious comedy ensues as she makes every effort to repulse the Count and elope with her beloved.
Chiara Vinci played the heroine with verve and energy, her flexible and expressive soprano soaring effortlessly in the opening duet with her clandestine spouse, a boyish and appealing Peter Kirk. Echoes of Mozart abound, expertly performed in piano reduction by Berrak Dyer. Joseph Kennedy was impressive vocally and dramatically as the pantomime domineering Geronimo, ultimately manipulated by all the females. Vivien Conacher was fabulously suggestive as the well-informed aunty, coaching her nieces with a battered copy of The Joys of Sex.
Il matrimonio is an utter tonic in this pared-down production, which is travelling to a range of unconventional locations including a garlic farm on the Isle of Wight and a cider barn in Herefordshire.