Tag Archives: Derek Clark

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA REVIVES SIR THOMAS ALLEN’S PRODUCTION OF MOZART’S THE MAGIC FLUTE

Sir Thomas Allen’s five-star production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute returns to Scottish Opera in May, set in a spectacular world inspired by the Victorian futurism of HG Wells and Jules Verne.

Mozart’s most inventive opera, featuring a handsome prince, a damsel in distress, sorcerers, priests and a bumbling bird-catcher, opens at Theatre Royal Glasgow on Saturday 4 May, and tours to Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London and Belfast. With set and costume design by Simon Higlett, this production takes inspiration from the city of Glasgow at the height of its industrial powers, drawing on the aesthetics and ideas of the Enlightenment, particularly the work of the Hunter family and the huge scientific collections of The Hunterian Museum.

Conductor Tobias Ringborg (The Marriage of Figaro 2016) is joined by Peter Gijsbertsen (La traviata 2017) as Tamino and Gemma Summerfield, First Prize winner at the 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, as Pamina. Richard Burkhard is Papageno, the role he created in the original production in 2012; Julia Sitkovetsky is Queen of the Night; James Creswell is Sarastro and Adrian Thompson is Monostatos. Scottish Opera Emerging Artist, Sofia Troncoso (Opera Highlights 2018), sings the role of Papagena.

Sir Thomas Allen said: ‘Our production of The Magic Flute, first created in 2012, makes its return to the stage and to theatres around Scotland. I’m looking forward with great anticipation to the rehearsal period and to the performances that follow. There are many changes from our original cast, but one welcome return will be that of Richard Burkhard in the role of Papageno. He brought to the part a really brilliant personal way of playing, just as one would hope for Papageno, and our collaboration was, apart from all else, a lot of fun.

‘As for what you will see, well, if you are familiar with Glasgow and the richness of its constituent parts, then you will recognise all of the references in this show. It is a tribute by designer Simon Higlett and myself to a great Scottish city.’

There will be two Dementia Friendly performances of The Magic Flute, in Glasgow and Edinburgh. These specially abridged performances are carefully designed to make the theatrical experience more accessible to people living with dementia. Sound and lighting levels are adjusted for the comfort of the audience, and the cast is joined on stage by a narrator. Audiences will also be able to go in and out of the auditorium during the performance and see the show in the foyer areas on TV screens. Scottish Opera staged the UK’s first Dementia Friendly opera performance in November 2016, with The Marriage of Figaro at Festival Theatre Edinburgh.

Those who wish to discover more about how the production was created can attend The Magic Flute Unwrapped, one-hour tasters delving further into the show, as well as Pre-show Talks. Audience members with visual impairments can enjoy the full opera experience at audio-described performances, which have a live commentary describing the action on stage without compromising the music.

Cast List

Tamino                                                            Peter Gijsbertsen & William Morgan (14, 18 May, 13,15 June)

Pamina                                                            Gemma Summerfield

Papageno                                                        Richard Burkhard & James Cleverton (20, 22, 27, 29 June)

The Queen of the Night                                  Julia Sitkovetsky

Sarastro                                                             James Creswell & Dingle Yandell (1, 5, 20, 22, 27, 29 June)

Monostatos                                                     Adrian Thompson

Papagena                                                        Sofia Troncoso*

First Lady                                                      Jeni Bern

Second Lady                                                  Bethan Langford*

Third Lady                                                     Sioned Gwen Davies

*Scottish Opera Emerging Artist

Creative Team

Conductors                                                     Tobias Ringborg & Derek Clark (13,15 June)  

Director                                                            Sir Thomas Allen

Set and Costume Designer                                Simon Higlett

Lighting Designer                                            Mark Jonathan

Movement Director                                           Kally Lloyd-Jones

Translation                                         Kit Hesketh-Harvey

Performance Diary

Theatre Royal Glasgow, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow G2 3QA

Sat 4 May, 7.15pm

Wed 8 May, 7.15pm

Fri 10 May, 7.15pm

Sun 12 May, 3pm

Tue 14 May, 7.15pm

Thu 16 May, 3pm (Dementia Friendly Performance)

Sat 18 May, 7.15pm

 

The Magic Flute Unwrapped

Thu 9 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 18 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Touch Tour

Sun 12 May, 1.45pm

The Magic Flute Audio-described performance

Sun 12 May, 3pm

 

Eden Court, Inverness

Tue 21 May, 7.15pm

Thu 23 May, 7.15pm

Sat 25 May, 7.15pm

 

The Magic Flute Unwrapped

Fri 24 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 25 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Touch Tour

Sat 25 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Audio-described performance

Sat 25 May, 7.15pm

 

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen

Thu 30 May, 7.15pm

Sat 1 Jun, 7.15pm

 

The Magic Flute Unwrapped

Fri 31 May, 6pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 1 Jun, 6pm

The Magic Flute Touch Tour

Sat 1 Jun, 6pm

The Magic Flute Audio-described performance

Sat 1 Jun, 7.15pm

 

Festival Theatre, 13–29 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9FT

Wed 5 Jun, 7.15pm

Fri 7 Jun, 3pm (Dementia Friendly Performance)

Sun 9 Jun, 3pm

Tue 11 Jun, 7.15pm

Thu 13 Jun, 7.15pm

Sat 15 Jun, 7.15pm

 

The Magic Flute Unwrapped

Thu 6 Jun, 6pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 15 Jun, 6pm

The Magic Flute Touch Tour

Sun 9 Jun, 1.45pm

The Magic Flute Audio-described performance

Sun 9 Jun, 3pm

 

Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, London, E8 1EJ

Thu 20 Jun, 7.30pm

Sat 22 Jun, 7.30pm

 

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 22 Jun, 6pm

 

Belfast Grand Opera House, 2-4 Great Victoria Street, Belfast, BT2 7HR

Thu 27 Jun, 7.15pm

Sat 29 Jun, 7.15pm

 

The Magic Flute Unwrapped

Fri 28 Jun, 6pm

The Magic Flute Pre-show talk

Sat 29 Jun, 6pm

REVIEW: Opera Highlights (Scottish Opera) – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Four singers, one piano, seventeen venues, Scottish Opera’s much-anticipated Opera Highlights returns (yippee!) and as always, it never fails to delight.

Director Daisy Evans has framed this year’s production as an electronically created playlist of opera gems. An “on-stage opera newbie” goes on an “emotional musical voyage” discovering, via Spotify and Google via Alexa, just how music has the power to move. Evans is a director to watch, and her staging undoubtedly adds greatly to the enjoyment of the evening. It’s funny, clever, accessible, inclusive, all the things that good theatre of any genre should be. It also looks great. A neon door and window and a few wooden crates serve as the only stage dressing, but coupled with the brightly coloured suited, booted and co-ordinating nail-varnished cast, it works brilliantly.

Freed from the constraints of remaining in a single character, the singers’ personalities are given the chance to shine in a variety of roles, and the warmth just radiates from the quartet. The acoustics in this small auditorium are as close to ideal as it is possible to get in a theatre and the voices give goose bumps. Soprano Sofia Troncoso, Mezzo Sarah Champion, Tenor Richard Pinkstone, Baritone Dawid Kimberg are exceptional as is pianist Jonathon Swinard.

The programme, designed by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark, delivers something for everyone. The range of composers, styles and moods, genuinely runs the gamut of human emotion.

Scottish Opera’s annual ‘Highlights’ tour, and indeed the whole of the company’s programming, is a model for how a national company should operate. A hands-down, five star, exemplary evening of entertainment.

Currently on tour to: Ayr, Drumnadrochit, Wick, Forres, Ullapool, Stornoway, Portree, Lanark, Helensburgh, Dundee, Inverurie, Laurencekirk, Perth, Dumfries, Musselburgh and St. Andrews.

More information at Scottish Opera

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Lauder – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

It’s been a dream come true for much-loved Scottish tenor Jamie MacDougall to bring Jimmy Logan’s ‘play with tunes’ back to the stage. Lauder is being staged in the very theatre that launched Sir Harry Lauder to stardom. The place, the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, where in 1905, Lauder in the leading role in the Howard & Wyndham pantomime Aladdin, wrote the now, world-famous I Love a Lassie. The place that is this week celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Lauder’s story truly is one of rags to riches: from leaving school at 12 to go to the coal faces of Lanarkshire, his first steps on the music hall stage, through fame in London (appearing in six theatres a night) then international stardom, to becoming the highest paid entertainer in the world, his skill at self-promotion and his ambition set him apart from the start. This is a man who carefully cultivated his tight-fisted Scotsman image and who, on arriving in the US (in the days before the mass media) rode behind a pipe band in an open-topped car down Broadway to generate a sell-out audience for his shows. He also spotted the potential in his young, inexperienced US agent, one William Morris whose company continues to be the king among acting agencies today. He left an indelible impression on all those he met. His eventual Knighthood though, wasn’t for his fame and skill as a performer, it was for his humanitarian work, raising money (over £1 Million) for the returning troops of World War 1, despite suffering incredible personal loss.

Over a century on from the height of his fame, his legacy lives strong. You may think that you don’t know the words to his songs – but you do. There must be something in the Scottish DNA that pre-programmes them into our psyche, either that or the sheer cleverness of the songwriting, that, by the second verse and chorus, you’ve learned the lyrics and are singing along with the best of them. Indeed, the audience, before the lights dim and the story begins, are gently singing along to these beloved tunes (something they continue to do whenever given the chance throughout the performance).

Besides a gripping tale, jokes that are as fresh and funny 100 years on, and those astonishingly catchy songs, it’s an incredible central performance from MacDougall that elevates this to an unmissable evening of theatre. MacDougall looks as if he’s having the time of his life and his energy and utter immersion in the role transmit to the audience. His rendition of Stop Your Tickling Jock is the most infectiously funny thing I’ve seen on a stage in a long time – I defy anyone not to laugh. This is a joyful experience, both to watch and to feel a part of. MacDougall is a fine tenor and his beautiful diction and impressive acting skills showcase Lauder’s work at its very best.

An in-missable, five-star tribute to one of Scotland’s greats by a production and performing team of the highest quality.

Images: James Glossop

REVIEW: The Elixir of Love – The Concert Hall, Motherwell

Scottish Opera’s latest touring production, Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, is a wonderfully witty, beautifully staged and finely sung treasure. An utter joy from start to finish, this is opera for people who think they don’t like opera. Donizetti’s gloriously melodic score is a treat for the ears and Oliver Townsend and Mark Howland’s charming and clever design – re-set from the 19th Century Mediterranean to a country garden in 1920s England, is simply gorgeous.

Humble gardener Nemorino is hopelessly in love with wealthy landowner Adina, but her head (if not her heart) is turned by the flashy Sergeant Belcore. But all is not lost when quack medicine man Dr Dulcamara literally rides into town, selling our hero a powerful love potion that promises to deliver the girl of his dreams into his arms within a day.

ellie-laugharne-as-adina-and-elgan-llyr-thomas-as-nemorino-in-the-elixir-of-love-scottish-opera-2016-credit-tim-morozzo-2

Ellie Laugharne and Elgan Llyr Thomas as Adina and Nemorino in Scottish Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

This effervescent production bubbles and fizzes throughout, thanks largely to the delightful cast, and as befitting this ‘male Cinderella’ story, it is the boys who dominate. Elgan Llyr Thomas is thoroughly appealing as our love-lorn hero Nemorino and his show-stopping Una furtiva lagrima (one single tear falls silently) is a real crowd-pleaser, but he doesn’t have the limelight solely to himself thanks to scene-stealing turns from Toby Girling as the preposterously pompous Sergeant Belcore and the outstanding James Cleverton as the dodgy Doctor Dulcamara, whose timing, sonorous tones and perfect diction are a masterclass in comic opera acting.

james-cleverton-as-dulcamara-in-the-elixir-of-love-scottish-opera-2016-credit-tim-morozzo-3

James Cleverton as Dulcamara Scottish in Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

Mention must be made of music Derek Clark, who deserves plaudits for trimming Donizetti’s score from 53 instruments to five without losing any of its richness and the brisk baton of conductor Stuart Stratford who drives the score along.

ellie-laugharne-as-adina-elgan-llyr-thomas-as-nemorino-and-toby-girling-as-belcore-in-the-elixir-of-love-scottish-opera-2016-credit-tim-morozzo

Ellie Laugharne, Elgan Llyr Thomas and Toby Girling in Scottish Opera’s The Elixir of Love Image: Tim Morozzo

For a work that was written, if not in the two weeks that opera folklore claims, but certainly astonishingly quickly nearly 200 years ago, this sunny, funny, dazzling and delightful work is a five-star, must-see production.

Currently touring Scotland, booking information here: https://www.scottishopera.org.uk/our-operas/16-17/the-elixir-of-love

REVIEW: The Mikado, Scottish Opera & D’Oyly Carte – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Silly, sumptuous and satisfying, Scottish Opera and D’Oyly Carte’s co-production of the perennially popular, anti-establishment satire The Mikado, is a delight from start to finish.

Rebecca Bottone as Yum-Yum & Nicholas Sharratt as Nanki-Poo Copyright: James Glossop

Rebecca Bottone as Yum-Yum & Nicholas Sharratt as Nanki-Poo
Copyright: James Glossop

The team that brought us 2013’s Pirates of Penzance have once again produced a picture-perfect, people-pleaser of a production. It’s Victorian music hall meets Imperial Japan and from the moment the curtain rises on Dick Bird’s sumptuous set, you can sit back, relax and rest assured that this will be a winner.

image

Copyright: James Glossop

Since Jonathan Miller’s much-revived 1920’s reinvention, almost all Mikado productions have suffered in comparison, but Martin Lloyd-Evans’ more than holds its own in the visual and entertainment stakes. Indeed, it even has G&S veteran Richard Suart, a much-lauded Ko-Ko from Miller’s production in this cast. Stuart’s sure-footedness is evident throughout, playing Ko-Ko as a cockney spiv in a kimono consistently tickles the audience, Tit-Willow, with its puppet crow is a particular highlight.

Richard Suart Andrew Shore Scottish Opera Mikado

Richard Suart as Ko-Ko & Andrew Shore as Pooh-Bah Copyright: James Glossop

In an almost universally solid cast, a few stars shine bright: Nicholas Sharratt’s Nanki-Poo is more Gussie Fink-Nottle than prince of Japan but it works beautifully, Rebecca de Pont Davies is a wild-eyed and wicked Katisha and Ben McAteer is a wonderfully witty Pish-Tush, however, less successful is Rebecca Bottone’s very light Yum-Yum, drowned by the orchestra throughout.

Ben McAteer Scottish Opera Mikado

Ben McAteer as Pish-Tush
Copywrite: James Glossop

For both G&S veterans and newcomers to opera, this sumptuous feast is a delight, sending the audience skipping onto the streets, whistling a witty ditty – a satisfying end to Scottish Opera’s spring season.

Rebecca de Pont Davies KatishaKatisha Mikad Scottish opera

Rebecca de Pont Davies
Copyright: James Glossop

 

This production tours to Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Belfast, Newcastle, Bristol and Southampton.

More details can be found on the Scottish Opera website at: https://www.scottishopera.org.uk/

REVIEW: La traviata – Scottish Opera, Town House, Hamilton

opera-page-trav

Violetta, a famed escort, leads a seemingly charmed existence amidst the cream of Paris society. But, in fragile health, she is tired of living an empty life and when Alfredo introduces himself she finally sees a way out of her tawdry lifestyle. Deeply in love, all is blissful contentment until some home truths convince her to leave Alfredo and head back into the arms of another…

La traviata/The Fallen Woman

Opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi

Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave after Alexandre Dumas’ play La dame aux camelias

Sung in English translation by Edmund Tracey

Performed in an orchestral reduction by Tony Burke

This new production of Verdi’s beloved tearjerker is part of Scottish Opera’s 50th anniversary celebrations, an unprecedented 50 date tour across the country fulfilling the company’s promise to bring Opera to the whole of Scotland no matter how remote. This production re-imagined in 1950’s Paris aims to get to the heart of the story by concentrating on the turbulent relationship at its core.

traviata_2504651b

Robyn Lyn Evans as Alfredo Germont and Elin Pritchard as Violetta Valery

Though enjoyable in parts and laudable in its aim to make opera accessible to the masses, this production is not without its flaws. The decision to sing it in English made it no more accessible than it would have been sung its original Italian with surtitles: Elin Pritchard in the principle role of Violetta is a fine singer however the nature of her and indeed any other sopranos voice, means that at the highest end of its range every word is changed to mere sound, losing all meaning, only the male singers (and not all of them) were, in any way understandable, though praise must go to Robyn Lyn Evans as Alfredo who possessed the most impressive vocals of the evening and the most convincing acting skills.

The truncation of the storyline also meant that anyone not already familiar with the tale, would be lost. That said, the programme is of  impressive quality providing comprehensive and essential notes on the production, and is an entertaining, informative and well-written read. However the length of the notes meant that it was impossible to read them in the minutes between taking your seat and the production beginning (the interval chatter from many saying that they wished they had time to read the notes beforehand as they might have had a chance of understanding what was going on).

115449620_349744c

The 18 piece chamber orchestra sounded tight and strong throughout, however the same could not be said for the singers; in this 700+ seat venue the sound was at times lost and some of the blame I fear must be laid at the door of the “shoebox” set. Though clever in its design and pleasing to the eye, it seemed to smother much of the sound. There were also some uncomfortably lengthy scene changes which left the audience somewhat restless.

The costume design also failed to truly reflect the setting; the sharper suits of the men were era-appropriate as were the “New Look” designs of Kathryn McAdam’s characters Flora and Annina, though the top hats and capes of the men in evening dress were more of a nod to the Opera’s origins and Violetta’s long-flowing Pre-Raphaelite curled locks and 80’s style dresses were an avoidable annoyance given the size of the wig and wardrobe departments of this national company.

The intention of Scottish Opera to “bring the widest possible range of opera, performed to the highest possible standards, to the maximum audience throughout Scotland” is laudable however I fear a little more thought and care needs to go into matching the staging to these many and varied venues in order to maximise the quality of experience.