What do you get when you cross a two-hander cabaret with a chamber opera?
In the hands of Blue Mountains-bred composer Paul Smith, you get a riotous evening of murder, mayhem and musical fireworks. And having premiered at Tasmania's Festival of Voices, with a follow up performance next month at the Hayes Theatre in Potts Points, his new show, Fancy Me Dead, is coming to the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba this Saturday, October 3.
Smith, a graduate of Springwood High now living in Chippendale, was commissioned to write the work for Blush Opera for their performance as returning prize winners in the cabaret showcase at the Festival of Voices. Having recently earned a doctorate in composition from the University of Western Sydney, Smith relished the opportunity to write for a pair of classically trained operatic sopranos with a penchant for twisted humour centred around food and love.
Blush Opera features Jermaine Chau and Taryn Srhoj, who recently advanced her artistic credentials even further by moving from Newtown to Blackheath. Over the years they have established a double act that is both powerfully dramatic and refreshingly comic. Smith drew on their unique chemistry to produce a vocal showcase in which, as one audience member said afterwards, “I had to stop myself from laughing out loud because I didn't want to miss the next line.”
For Smith conjured up a convoluted mystery worthy of the most labyrinthine opera plot, although with the unconventional twist of being built around two strong professional women, dealing with years of accumulated conflict and pent-up frustrations over their business dealings. Lest this sound dry, Smith threw in plenty of food and hunger - both literal and metaphorical - and a generous dose of love and lust, with an inexplicable dead body in the midst of the action, just to further excite the emotions and raise the stakes for our characters.
Musically, Smith drew on a range of styles to suit the dramatic changes in emotion, keeping the mood lively, by turns sparkling, spikey, savage and soothing. For the cabaret setting, Chau and Srhoj will be accompanied by Penrith pianist Benjamin Burton, who recently completed a performance degree at Sydney Conservatorium.
Fancy Me Dead is in The Baroque Room at the Carrington, 15-47 Katoomba Street, Katoomba, at 8pm on October 3. The composer Paul Smith will be giving a pre-show talk about the music and the plot at 7.15pm at the venue.