REVIEW: Scottish Opera Highlights 2013

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“Full of energy, versatility and plenty of humour, a cast of four young singers and a pianist introduce a line-up of excerpts from well-known operas along with some surprises from lesser-known works. A favourite with audiences across Scotland, this gem of an evening has something for everyone, from seasoned fans to opera first-timers.”  Scottish Opera

The programme for this year’s Opera Highlights is inspired by 50 years of Scottish Opera, featuring a winning formula of musical highlights from favourite productions over the years woven together with stories and anecdotes from the Company’s history. The cast of up-and-coming artists features Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Katie Grosset, Scottish soprano Eleanor Dennis (finalist in 2012’s Kathleen Ferrier Competition), baritone Gary Griffiths (an Associate Artist at Welsh National Opera) and Scottish tenor Nicky Spence, who is also appearing in The Magic Flute and The Flying Dutchman this season.

The talent, carefully chosen programme and staging make for a highly entertaining and engaging evening. The personalities of the singers (in particular Nicky Spence a man with a personality as big as his voice) as well as the undoubted talent, meant that the evening flew by.

There were many highlights in particular: Dennis’s affecting rendition of Oh Pale Blue Dawn from Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel; Spence’s beautifully heart-rending take on Kurt Weill’s Lonely House from Street Scene and a fabulously comic rendition of Offenbach’s The Typsy Waltz from La Périchole  by Grosset, which also highlighted her fine acting skills.

Included in the programme was the world premiere of Hand by Gareth Williams (Scottish Opera’s composer in residence) with text by the highly talented Johnny McKnight. Beautifully sung it promises much as a piece of modern opera if developed into a full-length work.

The evening is, as always, a combination of the familiar and the challenging. A fine introduction to opera which will inspire new fans and delight afficionados equally.

Highly recommended.

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