Camilla Kerslake On Starring In An Opera On The Eve Of Lockdown

The performers are taking every precaution...

On Behalf Of A Madman

by grazia |
Updated on

Tomorrow, America decides on who will be their next president. The race to this date has been an ugly one, full of accusations, mockery, panic and sadness. There are heroes and villains, ups and downs. Naturally, it’s ripe for operatic interpretation. Enter On Behalf Of A Madman, an opera arriving at St Albans’ Maltings Theatre just in time for the world to change. It’s Veep, meets Yes Minister, placing classics from the genre amid modern, English text.

The promo material sets the scene. ‘When footage from a West Wing staff party is leaked to a major news channel, the president is on the warpath looking for a culprit. Staffers scheme and second-guess each other amidst the misleading headlines, and politicians exploit the turmoil for their own ends.’ And observing it all is a news anchor for a more-than-slightly partisan network, played by singer Camilla Kerslake. The character is, it has to be said, just a little bit Megyn Kelly.

‘The director was like, “you're gonna have to watch some Fox,” which is obviously not something I've done before’, Camilla tells Grazia over the phone from the West London home she shares with her husband, former England rugby captain Chris Robshaw. ‘But I'm quite looking forward to the fabulous outfits and the blow dry. I’ve got my fake tan and I’ve whitened my teeth. I’ll fit right in.’

It is not an easy time to debut an opera. The show’s run, originally scheduled for four nights, has been cut to two. But safety is key. ‘Onstage, you can pass people within two metres if we're not singing, but if you're singing you have to be two metres away’, she explains. ‘I have love scenes, which are proving hilarious, and instead of shaking somebody’s lapels that person has to lie on a table and the table gets shaken. The pianist is almost in the lobby. I'm so impressed.’

Camilla, a BRIT nominated classical singer who has moved into opera in recent years, is baffled by this country’s treatment of those in the arts, who look after our finances as well as our souls.

‘The creative industry – the arts, the media – is worth 111 billion pounds to this country’, she says. ‘People come from all over the world to go to the Royal Opera House and the West End. We are a world leader in the arts, and it generates large, vast amounts of income to the Treasury.'

'But even that aside, can you imagine a life without music, without novels, without paintings, without TV programmes? What would be the point? Boris Johnson is always talking about how Churchill is his personal hero, but Churchill aggressively supported the arts during the war.’

The world is uncertain. But in life, as well as opera, it’s not over until the proverbial lady sings.

On Behalf Of A Madman runs November 3rd and November 4th. Book tickets here.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us