Couch Opera Live bounces back from Fringe lockdown at Camelot Theatre


Couch Opera diva Magda Lisek is hoping third time’s a charm after COVID wiped out her 2020 live gigs and the January lockdown forced cancellation of her comeback at the Fringe.

Now she has revived her stage show, Diary of a Couch Diva, for an extended run at Camelot Theatre which she says is bigger and better than before.

“Fringe has a set time limit, so we had to have the show run 45 to 50 minutes,” the Perth-born soprano explains. “So we have added many more numbers to the show.”

Lisek’s 2020 online show linked singers across the planet to a YouTube channel hosted from a couch in South Perth with fellow soprano Jillian Halleron.

Halleron missed the Fringe for a good reason — she found full-time work — so Lisek teamed up with another soprano, Yann Kee.

And now they’ve added tenor Jun Zhang and WA Opera young artist, baritone Matt Dixon.

“Given we have Jun and Matt we have added music for them,” Lisek says. “And we’ve done a bit of a prequel, so the story line is explained more. So we’ve added more text which gives Yann and me more acting, and more music at the end.”

Lisek doesn’t miss a beat explaining the chaotic course she’s navigated back to the stage.

“It’s been absolutely wonderful working with Yann, she’s just a delight,” she says. “The basic plot was based on the birth of Couch Opera Live.

“The show starts with both girls realising that COVID has cancelled everything. All contracts at Sydney Opera House and all the theatres around Australia are cancelled so they’re left in a desperate situation.

“So my character comes up with the idea of running an online show.

“There’s a big rivalry between the two girls while they’re planning the concerts. There’s a lot of opera music, then all the artists pull out so the girls have to play all the roles.”

That involves cross-dressing, with Lisek donning a fat suit as Luciano Pavarotti for Nessun Dorma, and Kee as a “bogan toreador” for Bizet’s Carmen.

Then the two boys come back and eveything gets reset.

“We’re surprised because we thought we were on our own,” Lisek says. “They get to sing their beautiful Pearl Fishers duet and there’s a big dance number at the end.”

As opera plots go, it’s fairly logical, though Lisek and Kee had to learn new tricks.

“We’ve been forced to get dancing shoes, which has been a lot of fun, and the choreography our writer and director Gregory Yurisich has put together is really good,” Lisek says.

“I feel like we leave the audience wanting more. We had a rehearsal last night with a lot of family members and they were really impressed.

“It has some reflective moments as the artists try to get out of COVID, it will touch a lot of people because of what we’re going through.”

And there’s an unlikely cameo from a West Australian well known to the audience.

“They’ll see a portrait of Daniel Ricciardo,” Lisek says. “My character is infatuated with him so he ‘stars’ in the show.

“There’s a lot of comedy, and reflection and it’s full of energy.”

Seating is cabaret style with tables, a bar and pizzas available.

Diary of a Couch Diva runs April 30 to May 8 at 7.30pm, with a Sunday matinee at 2.20pm, at Camelot Theatre, Mosman Park.

Tickets are available from