Tag Archives: Opera Highlights

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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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: Scottish Opera Highlights 2013

opera-oh-13

“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.