Tag Archives: Charlie Drummond

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA PRESENTS A FILMED PERFORMANCE OF HUMPERDINCK’S HANSEL AND GRETEL

Scottish Opera premieres Humperdinck’s enchanting Hansel and Gretel in the latest Scottish Opera: On Screen, filmed at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal on 19 December. The whole family can immerse themselves in this modern adaptation of the classic fairy tale from Wednesday 10 February at 6pm, via the Scottish Opera website. Before then, BBC Radio Scotland will feature audio excerpts from the performance as part of Classics Unwrapped, presented by Jamie MacDougall, on 7 February.

Sung in English, with staging by Daisy Evans, this vivid and joyful reimagining of Humperdinck’s opera tells the heart-warming story of two children and their journey from an impoverished home, into the mystery and danger of the woods. Brought to life by Daisy’s unique staging, with a Christmas-crazed witch and a shopping trolley full of sugary sweets and garish goodies, Hansel and Gretel seem a long way from their simple family life. Packed full of charm and sparkle this production is an ideal anytime treat for children and adults alike, sure to lift spirits and transport audiences from behind the screen to a world of hope and wonder. Although Hansel and Gretel is an opera traditionally associated with Christmas, Daisy’s new production celebrates the opera’s joy and hope that are just as powerful and relevant whatever the season.

David Parry conducts a cast including Kathleen Ferrier Award-winner Kitty Whately as Hansel, Rhian Lois (La bohème 2020) as Gretel, ENO Harewood Artist Nadine Benjamin as Mother and The Witch, Phillip Rhodes as Father and former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Charlie Drummond (Così fan tutte, 2020) as The Sandman and The Dew Fairy, in a translation by David Pountney and with a reduced orchestration by Derek Clark. Humperdinck’s chorus of gingerbread children is performed by a chorus of four adults.

Daisy Evans said: ‘This show is fun for all the family, bright colours, big energy and plenty of glitter! With the current pandemic, everybody has had a difficult Christmas, so I wanted it to be about finding joy where we can, and about families celebrating together. And I also want it to encourage people to come back to the theatre, and to bring their children with them – to make them want to be part of this experience, and to invest in it as part of our culture.’

Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark said: ‘Despite a prolific composing career, Humperdinck’s reputation rests solely on this one opera. The combination of a straightforward fairy tale with a musical language which owes a heavy debt to Wagner may seem an unlikely one, but in Hansel and Gretel, the mixture of simple tunes, like the famous Dance duet, thrilling orchestral passages such as the Witch’s Ride and the Dream pantomime, and the tender emotion of the children’s Evening Prayer produces a masterpiece which has kept its popularity for well over a century.’

Available to watch via Scottish Opera’s website www.scottishopera.org.uk. Scottish Opera has also produced an Audio Described version of the film, also available to watch via the Company’s website. This is the latest in Scottish Opera’s Audio Described opera films, all of which have proved extremely popular with viewers.

Find out more about Daisy Evans staging of Humperdinck’s fairy tale opera in an exclusive interview: www.scottishopera.org.uk/news/an-exclusive-interview-with-daisy-evans-staging-hansel-gretel/

IMAGE: James Glossop

REVIEW: Iris – Scottish Opera at The City Halls, Glasgow

Iris, Pietro Mascagni’s little seen third opera, is presented in concert form at the City Halls in Glasgow, by Scottish Opera. Originally intended to be semi-staged, almost universal cast illness means that this is a little more no frills. However, the music is so glorious, nothing more is required.

Set in Japan in the Edo period, innocent Iris (Kiandra Howarth, replacing the indisposed Helena Dix), the daughter of blind Il Cieco (James Creswell) lives a simple life. Her world is turned on its head when young Lord Osaka (Ric Furman) carries Iris off to Kyoto’s (Roland Wood) geisha house and a world so cruel she can barely comprehend.

Mascagni’s work pre-dates Puccini’s Butterfly by six years and is considerably more demanding – this is basically the tale of a young Japanese girl who is sold into sex-trafficking, and it makes no bones about it’s presentation of it, what Puccini glosses over, Mascagni and his librettist Luigi Illica, lay bare. The problematic nature of the story is only made more difficult by the fact that there is no remorse for the unpalatable actions of the men in the story and to add insult to injury, the males are inevitably handed all the best music.

The ominous bass solo with which the work begins, sets the tone for Iris’ fate, but it begins one of the most beautiful openings in opera, as the sun rises over Japan. This glorious opening is a precursor to a work filled with beautiful music, played faultlessly by the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and accompanied impeccably by the chorus of Iris. The first rate singers, the icing on the cake.

While the subject matter may not be to many’s taste, Iris, is utterly hypnotic, completely beguiling, and in the intimate setting of the City Halls, with it’s world-class acoustics, a five-star, absolute highlight of the current opera season.

Image: James Glossop

REVIEW: Opera Highlights (Scottish Opera) – Motherwell Theatre

There’s much to delight in every season at Scottish Opera, but the annual Opera Highlights tour is always a shining star of the programme.

We’re invited to a beautiful country garden where our protagonists are setting the scene for a party. We’re not exactly sure who our host is, but while the action unfolds we are introduced to each character, a little of their back stories and their relationship to one other. The inevitable cases of mistaken identity, star-crossed lovers, heartache and romantic resolution ensue.

Scottish Opera 2019 Autumn Highlights – © Julie Broadfoot – http://www.juliebee.co.uk

Derek Clark, Scottish Opera’s Head of Music has again chosen an eclectic and engaging set of arias, from the comic to the heart-breaking on which to weave the lively narrative. Among pieces by Mozart, Handel, Lehár and Tchaikovsky there are works by Ambroise Thomas, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Mildred Jessup, Alfred Cellier and the great Kurt Weill. There is also a world premier from Scottish Opera’s Composer in residence Samuel Bordoli. As fitting for a tour that’s aim is to bring new audiences to opera, there are a large number of pieces in English, either pieces original written in the language or in translation, increasing the accessibility for opera newbies.

Scottish Opera 2019 Autumn Highlights – © Julie Broadfoot – http://www.juliebee.co.uk

As important as the selection of music is, much depends on the quality of the singers. This year the calibre is universally excellent. The quartet: Soprano Charlie Drummond, Mezzo Martha Jones, Tenor Alex Bevan and Baritone Mark Nathan, as well as having fine voices, are easy to warm to, each can act and draw the audience in, keeping them engaged throughout. Of note is Roxana Haines direction, which is tight and breathes even more life into the already sprightly programme.

Scottish Opera 2019 Autumn Highlights – © Julie Broadfoot – http://www.juliebee.co.uk

If you are an established opera lover or someone curious to find out more, Opera Highlights is the perfect event. The extensive tour continues throughout Scotland (see below for dates and venues).

As ever, a five-star production from Scottish Opera.

The Albert Halls

Stirling

Sat 14 Sep

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Stonehaven Town Hall

Stonehaven

Tue 17 Sep

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Duthac Centre

Tain

Thu 19 Sep

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The Macphail Centre

Ullapool

Sat 21 Sep

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An Lanntair

Stornoway

Tue 24 Sep

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Aros Centre

Portree

Thu 26 Sep

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The Corran Halls

Oban

Sat 28 Sep

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Volunteer Hall, Galashiels

Galashiels

Tue 1 Oct

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Perth Theatre

Perth

Thu 3 Oct

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Carnegie Hall

Dunfermline

Sat 5 Oct

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Thurso High School

Thurso

Tue 8 Oct

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Orkney Theatre

Kirkwall

Thu 10 Oct

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Haddo House

Ellon

Sat 12 Oct

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Ryan Centre

Stranraer

Tue 15 Oct

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Beacon Arts Centre

Greenock

Thu 17 Oct

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The Brunton

Musselburgh

Sat 19 Oct

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