Spotlight On… Director of Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage), Max Hoehn

Pop-Up Opera have announced their Summer Season as they continue to challenge the way opera is traditionally performed. This summer, Pop-Up Opera return with a rarely-seen opera from the late eighteenth century, Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage) from 18 May – 30 July 2017.

Packed with tunes and matrimonial mayhem, Il Matrimonio Segreto is an exciting story about following your heart – a perfect summer opera filled with Pop-up Opera’s special humour, sparkle and fun.

You can book tickets here: Pop-Up Opera

Here’s an interview with Director, Max Hoehn who chatted to Break A Leg about the production:

Tell me about the opera and your vision for it…

It’s a wild, anarchic comedy that brings together a range of eccentric, forceful personalities. They all collide in a series of farcical situations that centre round the disastrous engagement party of a businessman’s daughter. Cimarosa combines a down-to-earth, popular brand of comedy with a strong sense of the grotesque. It’s not a sophisticated comedy of manners, but something much more universal, chaotic and fun.

It’s an opera buffa and therefore intended to appeal to a much wider audience and deal with every day, unheroic themes such as greed, vanity and lust. So performing the piece in such a variety of informal, non-theatrical locations taps into the form’s identity very strongly. The audience are very close to the singers, so that direct, in-your-face contact is ideal for this material.

Rather unfashionably I have not set the piece in a specific location like Las Vegas or the Roaring Twenties. There’s almost no set. We’re performing in studios, farms, castles and underground chambers, so there’s no point pretending we’re anywhere other than where we are. The focus is on the strange and colourful array of characters that drive the piece

Did you have any ideas about casting and what you wanted the performers to bring to the piece?

I directed a comic a cappella opera recently for Birmingham Opera Company, which we performed in cafés around the city centre. That piece has influenced casting and how I have tried to direct the singers. I’m trying to aim for a rawness and clarity that can confront audiences with the material in as direct a way as possible.

Have rehearsals altered your initial thoughts, at all?

Rehearsals have confirmed for me the fact that you don’t need much in the way of props or set to tell a story when the audience are so close.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

The joy of story-telling. Some glorious melodies. The thrill of the operatic voice when combined with a language as playful and expressive as Italian.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

The music is irresistible and the main national companies in the UK haven’t done a production of Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto for many years, so it’s very enterprising of Pop-Up Opera to choose this piece to tour to 40 venues all around the country.

Thanks to Max for a superb interview, I hope to be able to see this production as it sounds amazing!

Photo Credits: Lidia Crisafulli

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