Far from being rooted in lavsh productions in opulent surroundings, opera’s origins are of a more humble nature – as chamber pieces that made use only five instruments. In recent times there has been a return within the Fringe to opera’s roots, with productions such as La Boheme performed off-West End and its storyline updated to present day North London. Just as innovative and relevant, Silent Opera’s reimagining of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen takes place in the tunnels beneath Waterloo station.
Anyone familar with the Vaults knows of its suitability as a venue, especially for a project like this. The show itself is of a promenade nature, with the audience required to walk to different locations during the 90 minute duration. In that respect this production isn’t suitable for those with mobility problems. Also, for the first 10 minutes of the evening at the initial meeting point (the bar), it is rather congested for the audience waiting in that small area while the musicians take warm-up requests. Still, the headphones that the audience wears from that point onwards work like a dream, playing the score while the singers and a small group of musicians play elements of the opera live.
While this adaptation is firmly set in the urban 21st century, elements still bear the hallmark of its folklore-esque origins, with the names of the characters having connection with animals or rural occupations. That said, with characters like ‘the Forester’ taking an interest in ‘rescuing’ homeless girls, the audience can make their own minds up what that suggests… Case in point, ‘Vixen’ here is not a young animal waiting to be saved, but a ‘wild’ girl on the streets who is naturally distrustful of strange men offering to ‘help’ her…
While purists may not be keen on this adaptation, director Daisy Evans has fulfilled Silent Opera’s mission statement by producing a piece of opera that is accessible to younger audiences and those who have little/no experience of attending opera before.
© Michael Davis 2017
Vixen runs at the Vaults until 10th June 2017
CAST: Rosie Lomas – Vixen; Ivan Ludlow -Forester; Timothy Dickinson – Harasta; Robin Bailey – Fox; Rosanna Ter-Berg, Jessie Grimes, Phillip Granell – Ensemble