Oriental tales with exotic burlesque

IT’S a fair bet that most “CityNews” readers never suspected Canberra was home to an opium den. 

But they’d be wrong, as burlesque artist and entrepreneur Sarina Del Fuego and her accomplice, actor Anna Voronoff, are about to prove with a sexy show at the Hippo Bar.

She and Voronoff have worked together before, collaborating at Hippo, at Teatro Vivaldi and in their German-inspired “Noir Revue” for the Sydney Fringe.

Now, Del Fuego (that’s a stage name, a nod to her Spanish heritage) is back in her husband’s hometown from London and thought she’d show us a little of what she’s been cooking up for English audiences.

With a firm footing in cabaret and a grandfather who once had an affair with Marlene Dietrich, she aims, she says, to capture a “bygone era, elegantly embracing the colourful excitement and risqué exhibition of the cabaret and burlesque worlds”.

It is Del Fuego’s proud boast that she’s achieved her dream of performing at the Famous Spiegeltent in 2008. And with David Bates, the former Canberran who now owns the tent, due to bring it back during the Canberra Centenary, she hopes to repeat the trick.

In the meantime, there are audiences to conquer and a new subject to explore as Del Fuego and Voronoff recreate an opium den.

Luckily, the recent telemovie “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, cast some light on that phenomenon in London, since they’ve found it difficult to track down details of Australia’s opium parlours.

Not to worry. A little imagination and they’ve come up with “The Lair of Opulence,” complete with glamour, mystery, songs, dance, and a lot of teasing.

“A night of tales from the Orient with exotic burlesque, enter a trance with our mesmerising variety and songs from the Opium Madame and a temptress delivering dreamlike performances,” the promo reads.

But look here, I bleat, I don’t think opium dens were all that glamorous.

Del Fuego is undeterred.

“You never know where the show is going to go, your routine changes with your audience… it’s so organic, so beautiful,” she says.

Describing it as “more a themed evening than a play,” she explains that “Lair” is to be a teaser for a bigger show to be staged in a theatre.

“The Hippo is small, so we wanted to create a beautiful opium den in which you don’t know what’s going to happen… it’s not a stage show, it’s like an art installation,” she says.

“The Lair Of Opulence”, 8pm at Hippo, 17 Garema Place, Civic, Thursday, January 24 only. Bookings to lairofopulence.eventbrite.com.au/

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