Bloomsbury Theatre, London WC1
Opened 29 October, 1991

A bunch of men in drag, singing falsetto arias – not a heartwarming prospect, is it? But while La Gran Scena's deviant divas Raquelle Scandale, Lucia Poptart and founder Vera Galupe-Borszkh rip the piss out of clichéd opera staging, their sopranos are more than serviceable – the occasional fluke down into "proper" vocal register becomes a gag in itself.

The campery of presentation renders the evening accessible to non-opera buffs, but is motivated by a fundamental love of that which they lampoon. Indeed, this very warmth prevents them from letting fly at targets closer to home; everyone can deprecate the cheesy staging of the climactic Cavalleria Rusticana segment, or Mme Galupe-Borszkh's coy waves to her accompanist as she perambulates around the stage while holding a long high one. But despite this soft-centredness (and an embarrassing inability to hold a beat when rapping), Ira Siff and company have created a confection of highly pretentious delight. Someone even cried, "Brava!"

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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