Belladiva graced the State Library for a one-night only performance as part of the Anywhere Theatre Festival with their new work Aria Moderna.
Combining elements of cabaret, recital and staged concert presentation, the program features modern versions of music from Purcell, Handel, Monteverdi, Delibes, Mascagni and Faure, exchanging the grand piano for a laptop and drum machine.
This was a collaborative effort by several bodies demonstrating classic opera melodies set to a techno beat. Dubbed ‘electro opera’ this was a fine blend of beautiful voices and modern tempos. Classed as ‘roving entertainment’, the audience was treated to a mix of amplified beat box sounds, acoustic renditions, multi-directional harmonies and a varied programme.
The show was staged in collaboration with The Anywhere Theatre Festival which is a Brisbane based not-for-profit company with a vision to “propel a world-wide trend for exciting, engaging, passionate theatre anywhere but traditional theatre spaces”.
Whilst this is good in theory, and may lend itself to wonderful atmospheric performances and intimate gatherings, sometimes the logistics of such things are problematic. The State Library venue is classed as a sitting/standing venue, but that was not much consolation when half the audience turned up and realised that there were not enough chairs for the amount of people attending, and that they had to stand for forty-five minutes or so to watch the performance. (However, the organisers did find some more chairs to seat about two thirds of the audience.)
Aside from that, the ladies from Belladiva: Bethan Ellsmore, Laura Coutts, Michelle Bull & Alicia Cush were entrancing. With impeccable grooming and soaring voices, the girls put on an evening that was a treat for all attending.
The roving, whilst keeping it varied, was a little distracting at times, as was the use of microphones in some of the numbers, and inconsistent lighting. However, production values aren’t really the focus of the Anywhere Theatre Festival so we can forgive these discrepancies in the spirit of emerging artists working in non-theatrical environments.
And although the programme was a little abstract, overall it was a most enjoyable evening by Belladiva (and young guitarist Joel Woods), as they twisted the traditional opera sound into something a little experimental, a bit different, and a lot entertaining.