Tag Archives: Emma Kerr

REVIEW: Scottish Opera: The Trial – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

The nightmarish world of Franz Kafka’s The Trial, a world of surveillance, authoritarian power and injustice, was a work of paranoid fantasy when it was written in 1914/15. However, in 2017, the subject matter of this modernist masterpiece, has proven to have an eerie prescience.

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Philip Glass’s 20th opera, a co-production between Music Theatre Wales, The Royal Opera, Theatre Magdeburg and Scottish Opera, faithfully follows Kafka’s original text, thanks to its pin-sharp libretto by Oscar-winner Christopher Hampton. Enhanced by its innovative score by Glass, this is opera for non-opera goers.

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In this surreal tale, it’s the morning of his 30th birthday, and the unsuspecting Josef K is arrested for an unspecified crime. Initially disbelieving, he refuses to think that this could end any other way but well, but those closest to him urge him to take the charges seriously. As time ticks ominously by, and confronted by a parade of unpredictable characters and absurd situations, (including a web-fingered maid, a portrait artist, lawyers, court officials and a pair of guards that are dead ringers for Tin Tin’s the Thompson Twins) he increasingly realises that this nightmare may be one from which he can never escape.

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There’s a danger that Kafka’s bleak story (though one that is blackly comic) coupled with Glass’s (in his own words) “music with repetitive structures”, played out on a minimalistic set, could be entirely one-dimensional, but it manages to be grippingly atmospheric. There are flashes of the great Bernard Herrmann in Glass’s score and the music matches the mood of the piece perfectly, a menacing bass line ramping up the discomfort throughout.

Sung in English, The Trial’s accessibility is one of its strengths, that and the talented eight-strong cast. Sure-footed and fine-voiced, Nicholas Lester delivers a well-judged Josef K, veering between nonchalance and despair perfectly. Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Elgin Llyr Thomas makes his mark too, a singer with a successful future ahead of him, he shines brightly in the array of roles he’s charged with tackling.

Scottish Opera’s first production of 2017 perfectly showcases the diverse repertoire the company is increasingly becoming known for.and long may it continue.

Next up for the company is Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, a Sunday Series concert performance of L’Enfant Prodigue, a lesser-seen Debussy work and the much-loved Opera Highlights tour.

For more information visit: https://www.scottishopera.org.uk/

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.

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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/