Only an Octave Apart
Wilton’s Music Hall
5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Two performers from contrasting disciplines. One from the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, English National Opera, The Royal Opera House.; the other the basement of the Soho Theatre amongst others. One tall and blond and non-binary and as intimated, not a mile away from “Southern white trash”; the other a diminutive male Sicilian. One with a baritone that at times sounds like Carol Channing or a hint of Dora Bryan; the other a steely counter tenor.
Dresses, stockings and feathers (costumes by Jonathan Anderson).
And there’s no justice in the world if this production doesn’t sell out.
To say too much would be to spoil the joy of surprise, the not knowing what’s coming next.
Purcell or Victorian ballad?
Disco or Liszt?
The delight in hearing Constanzo duet with himself in Mozart’s Crudel! Perche Finora or a recreation of the miming scene from Singing in the Rain.
Art Garfunkel’s Waters of March: He sees it as a song about murder, I see it as a song about fishing “.
Or Edith Piaf.
Arrangements by Nico Muhy occasionally juxtapose songs, but you must go and be astonished.
A Sylvester disco hit and Phillip Glass?
Arguments rage on social media when artists crossover from the world of classical music and vice versa. Bond doesn’t venture an aria, but the voices cleverly intertwine. With long blonde hair worthy of a shampoo ad, and a towering presence, they hold the stage with an arm gesture, a graceful descent to the floor, a move that can conjure the mime of Lindsay Kemp.
Roth is impish and boyish and when he sings the sound is thrilling, but never seems contrived in the non-classical songs.
The banter is witty, relaxed, raunchy and confessionally moving. Comfortable with each other, they seem like their improvising. Roth tells us he first saw Bond at a cabaret venue in New York and thought they were the greatest performer he had ever seen, and he then followed them to multiple venues before this collaboration took place.
With a nine piece band led by Daniel Schlosberg on piano, set design of drapes and more drapes cleverly effective by Carlos Soto, lighting by John Torres, and sound by Lucy Baker and Ed Lewis that perfectly balances the two very different vocal styles.
Director and Co- Creator Zack Winokur’s staging is pitch perfect at Wilton’s.
Reviewed by Leon Ferguson
Mozart to Musicals
(All photo credits: Ellie Kurttz, taken 28 September 2022)
Opening Night: 28 September 2022
Final Performance: 22 October 2022
The highly theatrical show features two incredible stars – Justin Vivian Bond is know as the queen of downtown cabaret, regularly holding court at clubs like Joe’s Pub, described as ‘the greatest cabaret artist of their generation’ by New Yorker.
Anthony Roth Costanzo is the star countertenor (‘the vocally brilliant and dramatically fearless countertenor’ – The New York Times) whose otherworldly high voice has bewitched so many, notably in the title role of Philip Glass’s opera Akhnaten (which returns to the ENO in London this spring).
Together they have created a show called ‘Only An Actave Apart’ that mashes up pop classics with some of the greatest opera arias – it is a joyous and surprising musical fantasia, reveling in everything strange and beautiful in the coexistence of contrasts – from Purcell’s 17th century aria ‘Dido’s Lament’ to Dido’s early 2000s hit ‘White Flag’, from ‘Autumn Leaves’ to ‘The Waters of March’ and Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’. It celebrates the historical and the hysterical, from countertenor to counterculture.
Songs from the production can be found on all streaming platforms on the new original cast recording.
Presented by Kindred Partners and Creative Partners Productions In Association with Justin Vivian Bond | Anthony Roth Costanzo | Zack Winokur