THE TELEPHONE & LA VOIX HUMAINE | London, Playground Theatre

Opera on the Move delight us again with an intimate double-bill of Francis Poulenc’s short operatic solo and an even shorter duet by Gian Carlo Menotti, both themed around how we speak on the telephone. Seated almost in the round in the tiny Playground Theatre, it is a privilege to see and hear such an incredible young cast up close and personal.

La Voix Humaine (1958) is a 40-minute monologue for soprano. French soprano Emilie Cavallo takes us through the highs and lows of the stream of consciousness in a way that seems effortless, almost improvisatory. It’s an incredible study, that only benefits more by the small-scale staging and accompaniment. Director Benjamin Schilperoort places slow-moving shadows of the main character’s ex-lover in bed with another woman, at the front of the stage, which keeps the monologue pertinent and clear.

While La Voix Humaine is sung in French with surtitles, Monetti’s 25-minute comic duet, The Telephone (1947) has an English libretto and is sung with such perfect clarity, no surtitles are needed: we can even hear every overlapping line. The boundless, smiling energy of soprano Shafali Jalota is perfectly matched with baritone Thomas Chenhall’s fist-tightening anxiety.

With just three actors and a piano we are transported to completely different worlds, and able to enjoy these minute works in a brand-new way. Music director Satoshi Kubo also plays (solo) piano for the entire performance, bringing out soft and surprising emotionality in the accompaniment.

Playing 21-22 October, 2022 at the Playground Theatre.

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