Tag Archives: Mozart

NEWS: OPERA HIGHLIGHTS TOURS TO 17 VENUES ACROSS SCOTLAND THIS AUTUMN

On September 12, Scottish Opera’s hugely popular Opera Highlights tour kicks off with four singers and a pianist journeying to 17 venues the length and breadth of Scotland, from Kirkwall in the north to Stranraer in the south.

Travelling the highways and byways by land, sea and air, the Autumn tour begins in Motherwell before heading to Stirling, Stonehaven, Tain, Ullapool, Stornoway, Portree, Oban, Galashiels, Perth, Dunfermline, Thurso, Kirkwall, Ellon, Stranraer, Greenock and Musselburgh.

The setting for director Roxana Haines’ production of Opera Highlights is a beautiful garden party, and features a playlist of operatic classics and must-hear rarities, curated by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark. Highlights include Delibes’ ‘Flower Duet’, Vaughan Williams’ ‘Blue larkspur in a garden’ and many more from the likes of Mozart, Lehár and Scottish Opera Composer in Residence, Samuel Bordoli.

Pianist/Music Director Ian Shaw is joined by Scottish Opera Emerging Artist soprano Charlie Drummond; mezzo-soprano Martha Jones; tenor Alex Bevan and baritone Mark Nathan, who is also a Scottish Opera Emerging Artist this Season.

The same show returns in Spring 2020, with a different cast: soprano Zoe Drummond; mezzo-soprano Jade Moffat; tenor Andrew Irwin and baritone Arthur Bruce, The Robertson Trust Scottish Opera Emerging Artist who is a former member of Scottish Opera Young Company. It will tour another 17 venues around Scotland from February 4: Bathgate, Birnam, Markinch, Campbeltown, Bowmore, Arrochar, Bunessan, Arisaig, Beauly, Cumnock, Castle Douglas, Callander, Lerwick, Peebles, Fochabers, Alford and Rutherglen. In total, this Season’s Opera Highlights is visiting 34 venues.

Roxana Haines, who is directing Scottish Opera’s Fox-tot! at Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer, said: ‘This year’s Opera Highlights cast cordially invite you to a party on your doorstep, set throughout luscious gardens and magical flora and fauna of Opera. The stage has been set, decorations unpacked and the guests have all arrived but, the only problem is, no one quite knows who or why we’re celebrating…

‘As the evening progresses, the connections between our characters unravel through music from the likes of Handel, Donizetti and Mozart, and lighter pieces from Gilbert & Sullivan and Vaughan Williams as well as a new work by Samuel Bordoli. Prepare for charm, magic and love in all its operatic forms.’

Scottish Opera’s General Director, Alex Reedijk, said: ‘I am delighted that Scottish Opera will be touring what promises to be another sensational Opera Highlights to 34 venues across Scotland in the Autumn and Spring. This longstanding and much acclaimed commitment by the Company to presenting work across Scotland is part of what makes us Scottish Opera, and is welcomed by our far-flung audiences as a lovely operatic tonic! Opera Highlights also serves to introduce young singers to our audiences, and greatly assists their development as artists alongside presenting the joys of opera and singing to our widely spread audience.’
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Opera Highlights Autumn Tour Cast and Creative Team

Soprano Charlie Drummond*
Mezzo-soprano Martha Jones
Tenor Alex Bevan
Baritone Mark Nathan*

Pianist/Music Director Ian Shaw
Director Roxana Haines
Composer in Residence Samuel Bordoli*

*Scottish Opera Emerging Artist

Performance Diary

Motherwell Theatre, Motherwell
Thu 12 Sep, 7.30pm

Albert Halls, Stirling
Sat 14 Sep, 7.30pm

Stonehaven Town Hall, Stonehaven
Tue 17 Sep, 7.30pm

Duthac Centre, Tain
Thu 19 Sep, 7.30pm

Macphail Centre, Ullapool
Sat 21 Sep, 7.30pm

An Lanntair, Stornoway
Tues 24 Sep, 7.30pm

Aros Centre, Portree
Thu 26 Sep, 7.30pm

Corran Halls, Oban
Sat 28 Sep, 7.30pm

Volunteer Hall, Galashiels
Tues 1 Oct, 7.30pm

Perth Theatre, Perth
Thu 3 Oct, 7.30pm

Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
Sat 5 Oct, 7.30pm

Thurso High School, Thurso
Tue 8 Oct, 7.30pm

Orkney Theatre, Kirkwall
Thu 10 Oct, 7.30pm

Haddo House, Ellon
Sat 12 Oct, 7.30pm

Ryan Centre, Stranraer
Tues 15, 7.30pm

Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock
Thu 17 Oct, 7.30pm

The Brunton, Musselburgh
Sat 19 Oct, 7.30pm

REVIEW: The Marriage of Figaro – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

What do you do with a work that is almost universally adored? Leave well alone is always the sensible answer and Sir Thomas Allen brings his traditional, no-nonsense 2010 production of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro to the stage again for Scottish Opera.

Anna Devin and Ben McAteer as Susanna and Figaro

Anna Devin and Ben McAteer as Susanna and Figaro

If this were a beauty contest, then Simon Higlett’s 18th Century, pastel-hued, chocolate box design and Mark Jonathan’s atmospheric lighting would together make it a hands-down winner, however, looks alone don’t make for a successful production. At three hours fifteen minutes, the audience needs more than a pretty set to occupy it.

Hanna Hipp as Cherubino, Eleanor Dennis as Countess Almaviva and Anna Devin as Susanna

Hanna Hipp as Cherubino, Eleanor Dennis as Countess Almaviva and Anna Devin as Susanna

While there are more than a few standout moments there are as many lulls. The comedy largely falls flat, except when the laughs are wrung out of the audience through some broad comic acting and some of the directorial/design choices lend little to the storytelling – why, for example, was the Countess’ closet door (pivotal to the plot) hidden from sight?

Eleanor Dennis as Countess Almaviva

Eleanor Dennis as Countess Almaviva

That said there are notable highlights, Eleanor Dennis’ Countess is beautifully measured, both vocally and in dramatic delivery, Hanna Hipp, no stranger to trouser roles, is utterly convincing as randy youth Cherubino, as is Lucy Hall as the lively Barbarina. The usually reliable Ben McAteer is vocally sound as Figaro but a trifle lacklustre and Samuel Dale Johnson (Count Almaviva), while setting hearts a-flutter with his good looks, needs time for his voice to mature to fully fulfil this role. Conducted with vigour (at times, too much vigour) by Tobias Ringborg, the orchestra is in fine form throughout.

A solid, sound production, beautiful to look at with some glorious moments but not without its faults.

Runs until 22 October at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow then touring.

Details and ticket information here.

Images: Bill Cooper

REVIEW: The Sunday Series Concerts – Mozart and Strauss with Kate Royal

English soprano Kate Royal is something of a catch for Scottish Opera’s Sunday Series of concerts, and this, the last of the recently introduced series, is the jewel in the crown.

Curated by new director of music, Stuart Stratford, the orchestra are elevated from the pit to the stage and encased in an ‘acoustic shell’ which enables concert performances. While not fully convinced of its efficacy (it may be my imagination but the orchestra sound louder and more full-bodied when in the depths below the stage), the concert, a mixture of orchestral and vocal pieces, as a whole is a delightfully unstuffy introduction to classical music.

Royal is an internationally renowned artist and is beautiful sounding when tackling the Mozart selection, but it is the Strauss songs that are really glorious. However it must be said that her diction suffered in favour of emotion at times.

The 4pm time slot makes for a less rigid atmosphere and the programme of beautifully curated music makes for a relaxed afternoon’s entertainment. Hopefully in future we will see more of these quality concerts and attract a much-needed new audience for classical music.