Delea Shand

classical singer, music educator, writer, comedian, actor

Madame chandelier’s rough guide to the opera

In a camp fusion of comedy, cabaret and opera, Madame Chandelier guides you through her favourite opera plots, with jokes, drinking games, and a Nessun Dorma sing-along!

Having stolen this great music from the grand opera house, Madame Chandelier, the joyfully ridiculous and self-proclaimed anti-diva of opera, is tearing down the pretence and bringing opera to the people.

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Madame Chandelier trained and sang as an opera singer for years, until one day she looked around and thought, you know what opera really needs? It needs more jokes. So she bought an accordion and ran away with the circus. And here she is... With drinking games, a sing-along, and a death scene you’ll never forget.

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Madame Chandelier, the anti-diva of opera, has liberated this great music from the confines of the grand opera house. She’s tearing down the pretence and bringing opera to the people. She’ll guide you through her favourite songs and stories, with hilarious asides, drinking games, and a Nessun Dorma sing-along. Real opera is expensive. But not this show. Not Madame Chandelier! (just wait til you see the costumes.)

Delea Shand, creator of Madame Chandelier’s Rough Guide to the Opera, trained and performed as an opera singer for over a decade. After completing a degree in English and Drama, from the University of Calgary, this Canadian soprano set off to travel the world, and gathered a husband, two children, and three music degrees along the way -- from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London, England; University of Manitoba School of Music, Winnipeg, Canada; and The Manhattan School of Music, NYC, USA.

Before, and after, having children, she performed extensively with New York City’s favourite dive-bar opera company, Opera on Tap, whose mission is to bring opera to new and unexpected places, such as bars, street corners, and playgrounds. Despite loving their New York life, in their tiny, two-bedroom apartment, Delea and her husband decided they should go back to his native England, lured, mostly, by the prospect of a house with a garden, and the promise of free babysitting, as provided by local grandparents.

Motherhood is intense, especially when you do an inter-continental move with two children under the age of three. It seemed maybe there wasn’t time for opera now. Not when there’s dinner, and playgroups, and tantrums, and tea parties. And the only time left, is the time in between. Like confetti… But when life gives you lemons, that’s when you buy an accordion and teach yourself to play five minutes at a time, because you leave it out and pick it up every time you walk by. That’s when you take up stand-up comedy, because you can do it late at night, when your husband’s home from work, and your children are asleep. And all you have to do is make jokes for five minutes, instead of singing for five hours. And that’s how you write your show — in chunks, one joke at a time. A show written on time-confetti, about an outrageous character called Madame Chandelier. She plays the accordion and sings her favourite songs. You’ve seen observational comedy, but this is observational opera. Ask her children where she goes at night and they say, “Mommy does opera jokes.”