What a great idea! The Chamber Pot Opera is a short and very accessible opera that features characters we can relate to, songs we know and love beautifully delivered, a quirky location that will get people talking, and a price tag that has the potential to bring opera to a new audience. It’s no wonder that the Sydney season has sold out and the team is now moving on to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A very well-deserved success.
The Chamber Pot Opera features three young female characters, each dealing with some real life issue – an abusive relationship, stress at work and dating problems. No singing swans, witches and princesses here. The characters all meet for the first time in the women’s toilet – bathroom, or powder room for the more sensitive. They come to understand each other’s problems, and provide a bit of sisterly support. There are pills, champagne and makeup, tears and hand-holding. And beautiful songs – there are some old favourites that even the least opera-aware would recognise – Puccini, Mozart and Bizet – and some less well-known, but also beautiful, songs. Some of the works are in English, and where they aren’t the words are projected on the wall so we can all follow along. Not that you need to read the words to work out what is going on, but I confess that reading the words in the context of the songs made me appreciate the sublime poetry of many of the songs more than I’d ever done before.
In such an intimate space – there is room for just 26 audience members in each session, some seated, some standing – and with the acoustics of a tiled bathroom, the voices carry perfectly, and I was particularly impressed that the performers were able to sing so beautifully while lying down, and crouching down as they performed their parts.
The location itself, of course, is part of the appeal here. Not only is it the perfect place for the women-only drama to unfold, in the social media age it is also a perfect way to grab attention. Going to see an opera in a public toilet is so much more interesting than going to see exactly the same opera in a small fringe theatre. And the bathroom the team picked is a gem – white tiled walls, and a floor tiled in art deco era tiles.
Our verdict – superb. 10/10. The perfect length (particularly for the standing members of the audience), great voices, great songs and an interesting story to tell at work on Monday. My only suggestion for improvement – I think one ‘photo opportunity’ at the end with the cast in situ would have helped the social media sharing… but I guess the performances sold out without that, so maybe not needed…