Two Daft Sopranos

Maidment Theatre - Musgrove Studio, Auckland

10/06/2011 - 11/06/2011

Production Details

For those who love comedy and were always secretly curious about grand opera.

A comedic and musical romp into the diva heart of darkness

Watch as two gorgeous songbirds destroy their own recital with their slapstick diva-sized hissy fits. A unique combination of physical comedy and classical singing, starring sopranos Samantha Chardin and Tarryne Webb, as well as the talented Kim Naden, who will provide the straight man counterpoint to their ridiculous shenanigans.

Featuring famous arias by Mozart, Verdi, Offenbach, Mascagni, Faure, and many other white guys long dead.

Running time: 150 minutes with interval
Information and bookings through The Maidment Theatre.
Telephone bookings and enquiries: (09) 308 2383

The Musgrove Studio Theatre, Auckland
10 & 11 June 2011, 8pm
for bookings – 
Telephone bookings and enquiries: (09) 308 2383

2hrs 30mins, incl. interval

Repetitious romp

Review by Richard Howard 11th Jun 2011

Titled Two Daft Sopranos and described in the programme as “a comedic and musical romp into the diva heart of darkness,” this show sets out to amuse by using and abusing the stereotypical character of the operatic soprano.

It is indeed a romp; a collection of arias, over-dramatic antics and acid repartee between three performers. The show is playful. There are some nice dramatic concept surprises, some very funny lines and exchanges and otherwise a light sense of amusement.

The piano playing by Kim Naden is excellent, as you might expect from such an experienced player and theatre producer. His dry (seemingly improvised) interactions with “the divas” are quite casually delivered (with varying success) from his perch at the keyboard which provides an energetic contrast to the hysterics of the daft duo.

Alas there was not sufficient amusement, sufficient musical, creative or performing substance to fully engage me or indeed to sustain me into the second half of the show. Rather unfairly perhaps, at interval I opted not to return for the second half of the show feeling that I had definitely got the full measure of the performers, the material and the quality of the piece in the first half.*

Musical satire – “singing slag fests” – of this kind are not new to Auckland audiences and although they might seem frivolous and fun they in fact require a very high degree of musical, singing, acting and comedic skill.

The experience level of this production (on the amateur to professional scale) was not evident in the promotional material and remains unknown to me so it is difficult to truly measure the piece. However assuming the intention was to produce a viable piece for a paying audience in a central city venue then let it be assessed accordingly.

Samantha Chardin and Tarryne Webb are on their way as performers but they are not yet sufficiently skilled vocally and as actors to carry off a performance that so clearly relies on just their talents.

To play around with some of the greatest operatic music ever composed requires that you can sing it not just well but superbly, so that we the audience are transported from the ridiculous to the sublime and back again with ease and surprise. 

Comedic antics demand that the performer conveys a full connection and total belief in their characters and their situation; to the point that they suspend the audience’s disbelief. The tendency to play act, to overly push the performances in this piece often under-realised the comedic potential. 

Performances of this kind also need a sense of progression and development so that the audience is increasingly assailed with greater and greater antics and amazed by stunning musical feats. The lack of progression by the interval (indeed the rather repetitious interactions between the performers) made me feel that I had seen the second half of the show already.

It is only at a highly skilled level that musical satire really works although I have no doubt that many in the audience enjoyed the show at varying levels.

To the company I say keep working it hard! 
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*This decision is against the policy of Theatreview, which is that critics only earn the right to review a show when they have seen it all, no matter how arduous an exercise that might be. I contemplated not running this review but the tickets were offered in good faith and it does represent the honest response of an experienced theatre-goer, so let it stand – ED
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