A combination of brilliant marketing and shamefully lazy journalism may have fooled many into thinking pub opera's Year Zero was the day the Olivier Award winning La Bohème opened. But in fact small-scale opera has been a feature of the capital's music life for many years, offering an intimate and informal experience at very reasonable prices.
Dioneo Opera Company's new production of The Emperor of Atlantis runs from 5 to 9 April at the Cello Factory near Waterloo and then transfers to the Arcola as part of the Grimeborn Festival on 17 and 18 August. The opera was written in 1943 in the Terezin concentration camp by the Czech-Jewish composer, Viktor Ullmann. The story approaches the Holocaust from an absurdist perspective culminating in a haunting, redemptive chorale. The SS closed down the public dress rehearsal in the camp and sent composer and librettist to their deaths in Auschwitz. The manuscript was passed on to another inmate who survived and since the 1970's the piece has been performed to great success elsewhere, but only very rarely in the UK. The cast includes current and former RAM, Guildhall and Trinity students under the musical direction of John Murton and it's directed by Max Höhn. Tickets £10-£12.
Hampstead Garden Opera present Handel's Semele Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate from 8 to 17 April, including a couple of weekend matinees. HGO’s resident Music Director Oliver-John Ruthven will conduct a young cast and the baroque ensemble Musica Poetica London from the harpsichord in a production directed by James Hurley. Tickets £16-£20.
Robert Hugill's new opera When a man knows (premiered in concert version at last year's Tete at Tete festival) will be performed at The Bridewell Theatre, just off Fleet Street from 31 March to 2 April. It's conducted by David Roblou, directed by Ian Caddy, and features Zoe South as the Woman and Dario Dugandzic as the Man. You can even check out a video of the concert performance before you go! Tickets £8-£10.