Too Many Sopranos hits all the right notes

Opera stereotypes exposed in Edwin Penhorwood production

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

A scene from Too Many Sopranos

Shaun Ding

A DYSFUNCTIONAL BUNCH. This past weekend UWOpera put on their production of Too Many Sopranos, an opera about four sopranos desperate to get into the Heavenly Choir.

This past weekend the Don Wright Faculty of Music presented Too Many Sopranos, which proved to be a humorous performance that perfectly executed the witty comedic libretto written by a former college soprano.

With a stellar acting cast, the story begins when St. Peter and Gabriel enter on stage dressed in crisp white tail tuxedos with matching leather shoes and gloves. The well-dressed angels are looking for a woman to fill the open seat of the soprano voice in the Heavenly Choir, but it is a position that often has more applicants than open spots.

This proves to be true as four ladies enter on stage, and among this group are stereotypical opera singers such as the loud, heavy Viking lady named Madame Pompous, the crazy enthusiastic Miss Titmouse, the uptight Dame Doleful and finally the sexy show-off, Just Jeannette.

While St. Peter explains why they have gathered, these egoistical ladies engage in several humorous tiffs and unfortunately it turns out that without enough spots in the Heavenly Choir, these ladies will have to audition.

The funniest moments occur during Madame Pompous’ audition when in the background, a mute angel Gabriel is laying on the lap of Just Jeannette, thoroughly enjoying a massage. In contrast, when St. Peter is approached by this temptress, his awkward facial expressions expose his uneasiness with members of the opposite sex.

Also, another source of comedic humour comes from Miss Titmouse, whose over the top personality and psychotic smile draws several laughs from the audience.

Unfortunately, after auditioning the ladies are informed they will only be allowed to join the choir if they venture to Hell to recruit more tenors and basses, which are operatic parts traditionally sung by male roles.

The stage decoration doesn’t undergo much change in the second half, as heavenly cottonball clouds are replaced by hellish red spots and chains are added to one of the Greek inspired benches.

However, the performances of the men in Hell make up for these dull stage decorations. First to perform is uptight Enrico Carouser, whose tenor voice and regal demeanor draw a lot of attention from the ladies, and one by one all the divas except for the Viking find a mate in Hell.

The choreography parodies the staging of most operas, thus some of the dances are injected with popular dance moves such as the robot and the infamous Carleton, which St. Peter performs with expertise.

The opera ends on a happy note, as the men are eventually allowed to enter heaven with the women, under the condition that there will be no more singing of opera music.

Too Many Sopranos is an opera that brings this traditional art form into the new world of popular culture by using modern references to parody the typical aspects of the conventional opera.

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