When Brian Lobel was a teenager he failed to get the requisite 98 out of 100 score to get into his state choir. It has haunted him ever since, and he has gone on to have many more failures. Even this show is a failure: it failed to win the Oxford Samuel Beckett Award or get Arts Council funding. But what it does with sly rackety charm is to turn failure into success and in the process explore why we are so uncomfortable with failure, why some people such as businessman Donald Trump fail upwards, and how what might be seen as one person's failure is another person's success. As this show demonstrates, sometimes imperfection is far more interesting than flawless perfection, and often just having a go is a success in itself. I saw it in early 2019 when it was still in embryonic form. By now it should soar.
After failing to win numerous awards and after many unsuccessful funding applications, 24 Italian Songs and Arias is a recital, an opera, a gathering for (and by) those whose best isn’t always enough. (Beloved) performance artist Brian Lobel failed to get into the New York State Choir. (Acclaimed) Soprano Gweneth-Ann Rand (4.48 Psychosis, Royal Opera House; Aida, English National Opera) failed to win at Cardiff Singer of the World. These two magnificent failures have joined forces to create a show about trying your best, aiming to please and how we ever know if we are ‘good enough’. There’s no dress code…but you won’t be turned away for donning a top hat or silky gloves, should the mood strike you.