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Turkish Delight – The Opera

In Recital


Music &  Lyrics by  Giles Howe and Katy Lipson


With Victor Sgarbi, Arabella Rodrigo, Julia Buckley, and Adam Bayjou

Battersea Barge


22 & 23 June 09







A review by Barry Grantham for EXTRA! EXTRA!


A barge on the Thames, amid a little enclave of humanity, in the bleak surroundings of Nine Elms is a delightful cabaret venue, well run, good food on offer, and sympathetic service – that is sympathetic to the performers as well as the customers.  It is called, appropriately ‘The Battersea Barge’   

Last night the offering was Turkish Delight – The Opera, which was given to a large and attentive audience, the composers, Giles Howe and Katy Lipson taking turns to accompany the four performers on a strident Roland keyboard. There was much to admire; complete professionalism, musical skill, attention to detail, and not least, the obvious long and thorough rehearsal time the piece had been given.  As far as the songs were concerned, I admired rather than enjoyed; there was a great deal of vocal pyrotechnics which tended to overload anything in the way of melody and after the first twenty minutes or so it became difficult to distinguish one song from another. My main objection to the recital was the high decibel level to which both vocals and accompaniment were raised.   There seem to me to be three possible approaches to amplification – 1. None at all.  (And as this is billed as an opera – I would have favoured this) 2. Assisted amplification in which the miracle of modern technology can use hidden microphones to unobtrusively augment the singers (Now used in most large scale musicals) and, 3. Where the jazz singer (and rock performer) uses a ‘microphone technique’ to create sounds appealing to the ear, (usually the actual vocal output is little more than a whisper.)  Here, standing inches from their individual mikes the performers belt it out as if they were at the Coliseum.  The company is called ‘A Stage Kindly’ – they were certainly not kindly to our eardrums. 

Now on a more positive note, let me consider each of the four talented performers. Of them Arabella Rodrigo is outstanding. She would be outstanding in a bus queue and she is certainly so in performance, a veritable Amazon Queen in her imperial purple gown, a Gorgon to turn to stone the unwary, a Latin Lady Macbeth. Her vocal range is extraordinary (more than shades of Yma Sumac) and as a performer, she is gloriously OTT.

Julia Buckley would not stand out in a bus queue, but on stage she can hold her own with the overwhelming Miss Rodrigo, and show that she can scream even longer and louder.  When not screaming she has a pleasant and useful voice (I mean that kindly; very employable in musical theatre) and good diction and skill in characterization. I came to welcome Adam Bayjou every time he stepped to the microphone. I leant that he wasn’t going to scream at us, each entry was delivered with a charm and restraint not to be found in the performances of the female singers. In fairness to the two ladies and to the composers, I should point out that with the various infidelities, a knifing, a poisoning and a suicide in the plot, a certain amount of screaming was justified. Restraint and a truly well placed baritone voice were a major contribution from Victor Sgarbi the Turk of the title.



Monday 22nd June. Tuesday 23rd June  at 8.00PM

Battersea Barge, Nine Elms Lane, SW8 5BP, (Behind the FedEx

Box Office: www.batterseabarge.com

Tickets:  £10







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