Scots audiences like NZ director's staging of lightweight opera   3 Nov 2009

OPERA - New Zealand theatre director Colin McColl has wowed audiences in Scotland with his Shortland Street soap opera-style staging of a 200-year-old Italian opera.

The Scottish Opera caught flak for being too populist when it imported McColl's staging of The Italian Girl in Algiers to start is current season -- but saw it partly as a way to cut costs.

Scottish Opera's general director, Alex Reedijk, who grew up in New Zealand, brought in his mate of 20 years as guest director to translate Rossini's opera into a funky farce set in the world of television "soaps".

Artistic director of the Auckland Theatre Company since 2003, McColl said most of his inspiration for The Italian Girl came from earlier in his career, when he directed more than 100 episodes of the TV soap opera Shortland Street.

Set in a TV studio during the filming of a Latino soap opera his version of Rossini's comedy has bunny girls, beach balls and small-screen heroes. "Colin McColl's staging reveals that, with the right tongue-in-cheek, Rossini's flimsy plot can take modern dress and still provoke laughs," the Financial Times reported.

McColl told The Times in London he was influenced by "Hugh Hefner and the Playboy mansion".

Rossini would "totally approve" of the modern staging, he said.

NZPA

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