indieberlin gets in on an operatic flashmob in KaDeWe with Rolando Villazon


Who would have thought it. An operatic flashmob. And in KaDeWe in Berlin no less. And featuring Rolando Villazon no less. A name that even I recognise. Go here for the video. 

Now I know that indieberlin is generally known for other styles of music and other types of event, but someone dropped us an inside tip that
the opera society in berlin were going to spring a flashmob action on the 7th floor of the Ka De We – for the unitiated, the Kaufhaus des Westens, the biggest and poshest department store in Berlin that takes up 7 floors and an entire building. You know the one I mean.And that no other press knew about the thing. What did we think? 

Ha! we thought. A hot exclusive is a hot exclusive, whichever way it breaks down. So off we hotfooted to said posh department store and were there just in time to mill around with the well-dressed and well-fed denizens of the KaDeWe’s seventh floor food court, tourists and business execs all over the place. And about ten minutes later a couple at a table near to the cash register suddenly burst into song. Knowing what was about to happen – or having some inkling at least, it was fun to watch the faces of the unsuspecting. As all eyes and ears were finally upon them, then suddenly from the other end of the place a voice piped up Hallelujahing, which turned out to be a young man in a pullover. Then a middle-aged short-sleeved tourist joined in, quickly joined then by a young lady some metres away at another table.

You’ve got to imagine something that most of us, especially those of us not necessarily given to visiting nights of opera, forget: the extraordinary effect that a bunch of human voices in harmony without microphones and in an everyday place can have. It’s raw and pure. While I was standing there suddenly there was raised from somewhere behind me a high female choir and I looked around to find that the bunch of bored secretaries eating cake on a rainy Friday lunchtime were all standingand singing their heads off and making an incredibly beautiful noise doing it.

Voices kept adding themselves from the oddest places – a waitress walking past the male choir gave them an odd look and then stopped and started singing herself. A chef in chef’s whites and hat carrying a plate of chicken suddenly opened his mouth and started being a soprano. And then some sultry Italian curly-haired bloke suddenly stood up, threw his arm around the shoulder of the supposed chef and started belting off some Hallelujah’s himself and then I thought, hang on, even I know who he is. One of the world famous tenors, Rolando Villazon. He’s kind of like a rock star in the opera world. You get that frisson of excitement when you see someone really really fuck-off famous, even though you don’t really want to get that, and of course you don’t let on to anyone that you’re, as our German friends say, so geflashed.

Anyway. In the end probably about half of the supposed business execs, secretaries and tourists (well done for the disguises!) were singing their heads off and as I said before, even for a non-opera head like myself, the sound of it was really amazing. Then they all stopped, there was laughter and everyone hugging each other…well almost everyone, the soprano standing next to me gave me a kind of don’t-hug-me-or-else look, unless I imagined it, so I held myself back; and then they wandered off and the 7th floor returned to what it was – an expensive buffet food court in Berlin’s most expensive and exlusive department store.

Article by Noel Maurice