Operatic diva-iation

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MY alfresco dinner guests refused to believe the opera coming over the fence was live, the sound was so glorious, and the volume off the richter scale.

“It really is the opera singer from a couple of houses away,” I insisted as Penny Shaw continued to belt out an aria for the birthday boy next door.

Shaw and DivaLicious songbird Fiona Cooper Smyth will be dampening their volume a tad when they kick off this year’s Perth Fringe Festival with their new Hollywood-style show An Intimate Evening with DivaLicious.

“You sing quite differently when mic’d up, you don’t have to belt it out,” Shaw says.

The show is a mix of comedy, classic opera and movie songs with a bit of an opera twist.

“[But] we don’t over-opera them,” Shaw says.

The pair had no trouble shortening an aria they’d thought too long for today’s audience, raised on fast-paced movies and TV.

“Does an aria need to be six minutes when it could be three?” Shaw asks, adding: “We are easily bored and like to move along.”

The show includes music from The Shawshank Redemption and the recent Tin-Tin movie.

DivaLicious has been described as “great wads of comedy slapped between two divas”, and has been wowing non-opera and opera lovers in recent years, including making it to the finals of Australia’s Got Talent in 2012.

But it’s not all been smooth sailing, with the pair rival sopranos in the WA Opera chorus (interestingly, they have similar backgrounds, and also emigrated from the UK the same year).

“There are only limited parts in the chorus,” Shaw says.

Now the best of mates they ham up their rivalry and initially stand-off with a miaowing cat duet in their new show.

“Fiona tells the story of something I said, but I have no recollection of it,” Shaw says.

There’s plenty of comedy in a show that offers behind the scene glimpses and dressing room gossip.

“There are two sides to us, the poignant angelic side and the devilish dueling side,” Shaw says.

An Intimate Evening with DivaLicious is on at the Spiegeltent, Perth Cultural Centre, January 25 to 29.

Tickets $25 at http://www.fringeworld.com.au or call Fiona on 0438 933 635.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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