Interview With…Hugo Herman Wilson

The performer chatted to us about being part of the King’s Head Theatre’s production Opera Undone: Tosca & La bohème which begins performances at the Trafalgar Studios on the 5th February.

Hi Hugo. Could you explain a bit more for those not familiar with Tosca and La bohème what they can expect from the operas? Tosca and La bohème are two of the most famous operas ever written. Their stories are visceral, riffing on love, death, and power. This Tosca has been transposed to ’40s America where the mob is rife. Scarpia, the don, attempts to manipulate Tosca and her lover Cavaradossi in his desire for control but ultimately his actions lead to tragedy for everyone. La bohème is also tragic, in which young, poor; bohemians must find a way to love each other whilst living without money and being reminded constantly of the threat of addiction. These stories obviously sound great on their own but combined with some of the best music ever written (in my honest opinion) the magic of the art form really shines through.

What is it about opera that continues to fascinate and prove so popular with audiences?I’m fascinated by opera because nothing else can make me quite as emotional. I love the theatre, art galleries, listening to my favourite songs, and even eating great food – but nothing quite gets to me like climaxes of opera. It must be the combination of wonderful music, thrilling storytelling, beautiful design and beautiful voices that nothing else can quite compete with. At least, that’s what I love about it. I can only assume that people love it for similar reasons!

How does it feel to be a part of Opera Undone at the Trafalgar Studios?It’s really exciting! It’s my professional West End debut and my first crack at a long run of an opera. I’m interested to see how my approach to the character changes during the five week run of performances. I don’t know Trafalgar Studios, but it’s going to be great performing in a smaller intimate space.

Could you tell me more about the characters that you are playing?I’m playing Scarpia in Tosca and Marcus (Marcello) in La bohème. Scarpia is an evil Mafia Don with a lust for power and control. Marcus is a poor bohemian tattoo artist in an unwilling polyamorous relationship. Not much in there I can relate to (apart from maybe always feeling there’s never quite enough money in the bank account…) so it’s been fun exploring the darker sides of life.

For those who have never been to see an opera – why should they come along to the Trafalgar Studios?If you’ve ever been put off going to an opera for any reason you have no reason not to try this! It’s cheaper and shorter, with gripping stories all told in English. If you love theatre but have never tried opera, this is like good theatre but with extra juicy bits.

What would you say makes these King’s Head Theatre opera productions stand out? The most obvious change is that in La bohème the gender of the character Mimi has changed from female to male. I’ve never seen this done before and think it’s a really cool new idea. Tosca is more traditional, but will be an engaging production so you can’t ask for much more!

Opera Undone: Tosca & La bohème will run at the Trafalgar Studios from the 5th February until the 7th March.

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