Backstage! with Kate McStraw of Pop Up Opera!

As someone new to opera, I’ve seen a handful of performances in the past, mostly large-scale tours at Southampton Mayflower, entering this new world has been an incredibly exciting experience. Music is a powerful tool:- never more so than when projected by the lungs of opera singers!

I’m currently sat in rehearsals (the final week of three and our final preparation before opening night at The Vaults, London on Monday 21st March) and the energy in the room is electric!

Pop-up Opera singers have special talents to convey deep emotion through both the music and their acting whilst creating an intimate performance style. Director, James Hurley, interjects the rehearsal with notes about deathly stares and glares of revenge, in an attempt to create real tension on stage. The stage manager is off to purchase more fake blood!

This production has the formula to be particularly atmospheric, and is performed up close to the audience.

The setting has been updated to a 90s style Italian mafia environment; Capellio (Lord Capulet) the head of one gang with Tebaldo and Romeo gang members. During this story,  unlike the infamous Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet, the story opens with Romeo and Guileitta already in love and fighting for their love to survive against the bloody gang warfare taking place around them. The rehearsal room is full of wine crates and discarded champagne bottles, starkly lit by florescent strip lighting; part of Capellio’s basement wine bar from which he runs his ‘business’.

I’m a huge Shakespeare fan, so working on an operatic version of Romeo and Juliet has been a real joy. I’ve also learnt how both Shakespeare and Bellini have been inspired by the same original Italian text, rather than Bellini taking his inspiration from Shakespeare.

This is the first time Pop-up Opera have toured to Dorset.  Marine Theatre, with it’s flexible seating and sea-side location, couldn’t be a more perfect place to introduce the company to this county! We look forward to meeting audiences here on Monday 28th March – take it from an opera novice; this production will leave you hooked to this powerful artform.


By Kate McStraw, Pop-up Opera Producer (originally from Dorset!)