Whether you're a seasoned opera-goer or a complete newbie to the art form, Madame Chandelier's Rough Guide to the Opera has something for you. In this 45-minute five-act performance, standup soprano Delea Shand provides a crash course in some of the most-loved opera plots, performing her take on their best-known arias and providing anecdotes from her own life and opera career in between.
The arias are where Shand shines. City Cafe's nineties room may be small, but she fills it with her voice, breaking between lines to give her take on the plot (The Magic Flute is from Mozart's misogynistic phase), or asides about operatic technique such as the Queen of the Night's "opera shouting", while in La Bohème we experience "opera coughing". The two are not dissimilar.
Shand easily involves her audience in the show, trusting some with instruments to accompany costume changes, playing an opera drinking game with "expensive cheap champagne" and ending with help from some spectacular backing dancers. Her open nature makes it easy to join in the fun.
What lets the show down is the moments linking the acts. The anecdotes Shand shares from her own life are not as slick, and the standup elements of the show do not come as easily to her as the music. She boasts a decade of classical music training, so with practice, the standup will come in time. Until then, there's always a 'Nessun Dorma' sing along.