Culture Music

Utopia review: Festival of Voice turns imagination into reality

Le Gateau Chocolat

by Andrea Gaini


I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of a utopia. A magic place where everything is just perfect, everything is consistent and pure, there are no mistakes and people are simply happy. In my head, utopia meant ‘impossible’. Something that would never happen in this world.

But then, I met Utopia, the show-gig curated by Charlotte Church, and realised what utopia really means – a place where everything is perfect, the way it is. A place where art and passion are the only currency and the people the only nation. A place where opera can dress in drag and poetry speak of chicken shops, a place where African music can meet rock ‘n roll. Utopia is a place of expression and community, where individuals are only an instrument for the happiness of everyone, where there’s no one left behind and no one in front of us.

In this hell of a mess that was Utopia, Charlotte Church created a mix of genres and even different levels of experience in the world of performance that developed the familiarity and friendliness of a school recital with the professionality and talent of fully grown artists.

Some Voices, an all-Welsh amateur choir, were the first to come onto the stage and open the night after Church’s introduction to Utopia. Despite not being the best singers or the best chorus, expressing their passion and simply having a good time came through to be the only important bit of their performance.

Le Gateau Chocolat was exquisite. Her talent as a singer was unquestionable, while her show entirely was absolute gold. Fighting against various technical difficulties of an unlucky night, Le Gateau never fell out of character, embracing each moment with her charm and positivity. The small stage and audience empowered, even more, the intimacy that she created with us. Her switch between the powerful operatic low range and her light higher range incorporated her double persona beautifully co-existing at all times showing pride of who she is – something that truly moved me and the audience, so much that as she was walking off stage we couldn’t resist but beg for more.

As the show went by, the energy grew, turning the stage of the Donald Gordon Theatre into a real club night, with Fatoumata Diawara to rock us up and Ionnalee for a touch of electronic pop. Such mix definitely gave the feel of a proper night out in the context of the utopian world that had been created within the Centre.

Being a theatre geek studying in Wales, I always look up to the WMC to find something to engage with and feed my thirst for culture. The Festival of Voice displays the diversity and a sense of community within the framework of the Welsh capital that needs to become a new Welsh tradition. Utopia incorporated this in full – a combination of acts that on their own are not perfect  – however, when put together, become one single power that can change the world, or not, because we are perfect as we are, together.