Tag Archives: Opera

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA YOUNG COMPANY PRESENTS GLUCK’S ORFEO & EURIDICE

Scottish Opera Young Company (formerly Connect Company) is returning to The Beacon in Greenock this April to perform one of Gluck’s most popular and enduring works: Orfeo & Euridice.

The Company, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2018, takes to the stage at The Beacon on April 6 and 7, following the success of its production of Dido and Aeneas there in 2017.

New Artistic Director Jonathon Swinard conducts the young performers, who are aged 16 to 23, and professional singers Daniel Keating-Roberts (The Cabinet of Dr Caligari 2016) as Orfeo and Jessica Leary (Pop-up Opera 2018) as Euridice. A dancer from Dance Studio Scotland at Glasgow Clyde College also joins the cast. Opera and theatre director Caroline Clegg makes her Scottish Opera debut, and designer Finlay McLay (Dido and Aeneas 2017) returns as designer.

Based on the myth of Orpheus, Gluck’s Orfeo & Euridice — at one moment full of fury, the next clear and pure — tells the tale of one man’s determination to defy the gods and rescue his lover from Hades. But can he resist temptation long enough to save her?

Jane Davidson, Scottish Opera’s Director of Education and Outreach said: ‘Gluck’s Orfeo & Euridice was a real game changer in terms of the narrative development of the art form of opera, as we recognise it today. As artistically revelatory and thought-provoking for audiences in 1774 as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is for contemporary theatre-goers, and featuring one of the loveliest and best known arias in the operatic repertoire (‘Che farò senza Euridice’), this might just be the ultimate, universal tale of boy meets girl, boy loses, and then finds girl again.’

Jonathon Swinard, Scottish Opera Young Company Artistic Director said: ‘It is a privilege to be the new Artistic Director of the Scottish Opera Young Company and I’m hugely looking forward to conducting Gluck’s Orfeo & Euridice this April. Curiously, this piece was actually the first opera I ever worked on as a young repetiteur at the age of 18. Fast-forward a few years, and it is a lovely feeling to be rehearsing this work with the exceedingly talented members of the Scottish Opera Young Company, many of whom are also gaining their first real stage experience through this wonderful piece.’

The Beacon Arts Centre, Custom House Quay, Greenock, PA15 1HJ

Sat 6 Apr, 7pm

Sun 7 Apr, 2pm

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: Anthropocene – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh’s fourth work for Scottish Opera (and their first full-length opera) received its world premiere in Glasgow last night. While Anthropocene delivers on many levels, it isn’t quite the perfect package…yet. There’s fantastic potential for thrills and chills both dramatically and musically, but there’s an overriding feeling that the narrative and expected tension of the subject matter has been sacrificed due to uneven pacing.

Entrepreneur Harry King has financed a polar expedition on his state of the art vessel, King’s Anthropocene, an expedition to explore the origins of life on earth. As the ice encroaches, the team become trapped, tensions rise among the small crew and an eerie discovery emerges from the frozen depths.

While Act One firmly establishes each character, it outstays its welcome by a good twenty minutes: there’s unnecessary repetitive padding of the libretto and a uniform musical tone that fails to grip. On the reverse side, its final act comes to its denouement at a break-neck speed. That said there are some hauntingly beautiful musical moments, most particularly at the hands of Jennifer France as the being from the ice. Her gorgeous, ethereal soprano sends shivers down the spine. Less successful both dramatically and vocally are Mark Le Brocq’s Harry King and Sarah Champion as King’s daughter Daisy – each is underpowered vocally and over-acting dramatically.

Samal Blak’s set and costume design, while functional, lacks the necessary detail that keeps the attention for the duration of a full-length work. Matthew Richardson’s direction is functional rather than original or thrilling.

The explorational of our Anthropocene age, science and technology interwoven with ancient beliefs and a touch of Frankenstein, all seem thrilling on paper, and it would have been a stunner had the dramatic potential been fully exploited. It feels like a case of what might have been.

Runs until 26 January at The Theatre Royal, Glasgow, then tours to The King’s Theatre, Edinburgh and the Hackney Empire, London.

IMAGES: James Glossop

 

 

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA PRESENTS WORLD PREMIERE OF ANTHROPOCENE BY STUART MACRAE AND LOUISE WELSH

The world premiere of Anthropocene, a gripping new work commissioned by Scottish Opera from composer Stuart MacRae and librettist Louise Welsh, takes place on January 24 at Theatre Royal Glasgow. It then tours to King’s Theatre, Edinburgh and London’s Hackney Empire.

Telling the story of an expeditionary team of scientists who become trapped in the frozen Arctic wastelands, Anthropocene is directed by Matthew Richardson (Rigoletto 2018) and designed by Samal Blak, the award-winning team behind MacRae and Welsh’s five-star opera The Devil Inside (2016).

© Julie Broadfoot – http://www.juliebee.co.uk

Conducted by Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford, the superb ensemble cast includes former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Jennifer France (Ariadne auf Naxos 2018), Scottish soprano Jeni Bern and Stephen Gadd (Rigoletto 2018.) They are joined by Benedict Nelson (The Burning Fiery Furnace 2018), Mark Le Brocq, Paul Whelan, Anthony Gregory and Laura Zigmantaite (Ariadne auf Naxos 2018), a former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist.

Anthropocene is the fourth collaboration between MacRae and Welsh, a fruitful partnership initially born of the 15-minute opera Remembrance Day in 2009. The composer-librettist team went on to create Ghost Patrol in 2012, which won a South Bank Sky Arts Award and was nominated for an Olivier Award, and 2016’s The Devil Inside, based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Inverness-born MacRae’s work has been performed at the Royal Opera House and Edinburgh International Festival, and by ensembles including Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Hebrides Ensemble. He is currently Composer in Association at Lammermuir Festival.

A Professor of Creative Writing at University of Glasgow, Welsh is the author of a number of popular novels including award-winning The Cutting Room and Plague Times Trilogy.

Composer Stuart MacRae said: ‘The triumph of human self-interest over nature and over other humans: this is the essence of the Anthropocene age. It is also the cause of man-made climate change, countless environmental catastrophes and the exploitation of marginalised peoples by wealthy nations and individuals. When faced with extreme isolation, a loss of control over their destiny, and personal catastrophe, the appearance of a mysterious outsider poses an impossible dilemma for the crew of the Anthropocene, and becomes the focus of temptation, sympathy, ambition, empathy and fascination.

‘It’s been a joy to work on Anthropocene with librettist Louise Welsh, who brings such depth, colour and variety to this original story, and I’m delighted that it will be brought to the stage by our hugely imaginative long-term collaborators, Matthew Richardson and Samal Blak, and conducted by Stuart Stratford.’

Librettist Louise Welsh said: ‘Anthropocene is one of the most exciting projects I have been involved with. This is my fourth opera with Stuart MacRae for Scottish Opera and it is an honour to write words which I know he will set to a unique palette of music.

‘The themes of Anthropocene are both perennial and up-to-the-minute. Human beings have always striven to conquer distant and hostile territories. The twenty-first century has opened the field to rich amateurs who might previously have stayed at home and charted on maps the progress of expeditions they had funded. Anthropocene is a story of over-wielding ambition, murder, human sacrifice and thwarted love. It is also an exploration of the tensions between magic and science.’

Stuart Stratford, Scottish Opera Music Director said: ‘Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh have yet again delivered an amazing piece of music theatre for Scottish Opera. An incredibly imaginative story of discovery, betrayal and violent sacrifice with daring and dazzling virtuoso orchestral textures, Anthropocene will keep the audience gripped throughout.’

Those who wish to discover more about how the production was created can attend Pre-show Talks, and audience members with a visual impairment can enjoy the full opera experience at audio-described performances, which have a live commentary describing the action on stage without compromising the music.

Anthropocene is supported by John S. Cohen Foundation, RVW Trust and Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle.

 

Cast List

Ice                                                                             Jennifer France

Professor Prentice                                              Jeni Bern 

Charles                                                                    Stephen Gadd

Miles                                                                        Benedict Nelson

Harry King                                                               Mark Le Brocq

Captain Ross                                                          Paul Whelan

Vasco                                                                         Anthony Gregory

Daisy                                                                          Laura Zigmantaite

 

Creative Team

 

Conductor                                                              Stuart Stratford

Director                                                                   Matthew Richardson

Set and Costume Designer                              Samal Blak 

Lighting Designer                                                 Matthew Richardson 

Movement Director                                             Kally Lloyd-Jones

Associate Lighting Director                                Zoe Spurr

 

Performance Diary

 

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

Thu 24 Jan, 7.15pm

Sat 26 Jan, 7.15pm

 

Pre-show Talk                                             Sat 26 Jan, 6pm

Touch Tour                                                    Sat 26 Jan, 6pm

Audio-described performance            Sat 26 Jan, 7.15pm

 

King’s Theatre Edinburgh, 2 Leven Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9LQ

Thu 31 Jan, 7.15pm

Sat 2 Feb, 7.15pm

 

Pre-show Talk                                             Sat 2 Feb, 6pm

Touch Tour                                                    Sat 2 Feb, 6pm

Audio-described performance            Sat 2 Feb, 7.15pm

 

Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, London, E81 1EJ

Thu 7 Feb, 7.30pm

Sat 9 Feb, 7.30pm

London performances are presented in association with The Royal Opera

IMAGE: Julie Broadfoot

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: Greek – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Based on Steven Berkoff’s riff on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Greek has fast forwarded the story from Thebes, 429 BC to the Tufnell Park in the 1980s.

Mark-Anthony Turnage’s work, while labelled as modern opera is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and while the shock of the new may have worn off in the intervening years, it still packs a hugely entertaining punch visually and aurally. Though, those with a delicate stomach might want to give it a wide berth thanks to Dick Straker’s live video projections which include a stomach-turning greasy spoon breakfast complete with live maggots and those offended by fowl language be warned there’s plenty of effing and blinding.

While cleverly adapted to suit modern sensibilities, the fundamentals remain the same: our hero Eddy, clad in a tomato red Adidas 3-stripe tracksuit leaves behind the ‘cess pit’ of the East End to avoid fulfilling the prophecy of a fortune teller who predicts his father will die a violent death and he’ll ‘bunk up with his mum’.

Johannes Schutz’s set design comprising an enormous, white rectangular revolve with two door openings, focusses all the attention firmly up front and centre stage. Alex Lowde’s comical costume designs add to the almost vaudevillian feeling of the piece.

The cast of four (three of whom, Allison Cook, Susan Bullock and Henry Waddington, double, triple and quadruple up on roles) keep the interest and entertainment up throughout. There are however a few issues with projection, even from just a few rows back it sounds underpowered. That said, it doesn’t detract from the fact that this it remains hugely entertaining throughout.

Young conductor Finnegan Downie Dear, keeps the orchestra on point and sustains the creeping menace in the music for the duration.

Subtle it isn’t, but it is a thoroughly engaging, bawdy and bold, small but perfectly formed 80 minute breath of fresh air on the opera landscape.

Images: Jane Hobson

 

REVIEW: The Fiery Angel (Scottish Opera Sunday Series) – City Halls, Glasgow

Masochistic obsession, black magic, demons, mass possession, exorcism, skeletons, nuns, appearances from Faust and Mephistopheles, it’s no wonder Sergei Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, often called lurid and sensationalist, is seldom staged. This latest production in The Sunday Series from Scottish Opera sees the work given a stripped back concert style treatment and it’s all the better for it.

Rehearsal for The Fiery Angel
Photos by Julie Howden

While lacking a set, it lacks for nothing else. The principal cast is largely made up of native Russian speakers and some fellow Eastern Europeans and is supplemented by current students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland opera school. The expertise with the language is partly the reason for the quality of this production, that and the considerable singing and acting skills of its principal players. Russian soprano Svetlana Sozdateleva is fine-voiced and gives a convincing, emotive performance throughout as the mentally unsound Renata, as is Azerbaijani baritone Evez Abdulla as Ruprecht and Russian tenor Dmitry Golovnin as Agrippa von Nettesheim, though it must be said that at times they, and their fellow singers find it hard to be heard over the outstanding orchestra (itself swelled in number by students from the Conservatoire), who, under the commanding baton of Mikhail Agrest, have rarely sounded more powerful.

Rehearsal for The Fiery Angel
Photos by Julie Howden

For all its, quite frankly insane subject matter, the score is an absolute winner: powerful, hypnotic, dissonant, majestic, bold and gripping.

Every aspect of this largely concert hall venue is utilised well: singers enter through the auditorium, sing from the balconies, orchestra stalls and act out the considerable drama in an arrangement of simply staged, but hugely effective scenes.

An absolute triumph for both Scottish Opera and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a fantastic opportunity to hear Prokofiev’s masterpiece sounding at its best.

 

 

REVIEW: The 8th Door / Bluebeard’s Castle – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Karen Cargill David Hayward Bluebeard's castle theatre Royal Scottish opera glasgow

You must admire the bold, brave, artistic choices that have characterised Scottish Opera’s current season. However, whether these choices resonate with its current, loyal audience remains to be seen.

Lliam Paterson and Vanishing Point’s Matthew Lenton’s new commission The 8th Door has been devised as a companion piece to Béla Bartók’s sublime Bluebeard’s Castle, the intention being that they, (according to the programme notes) “complement each other’s artistic ambition and vision, through a provocative evening”. This world-premiere work provides plenty food for thought.

A relationship plays out before us from its inception to its demise, two actors, facing video cameras, their backs to the audience, their emotions projected onto screens. From the pit, six voices, accompanied by a stunningly good orchestra, sing a text based on the works of Bartók’s artistic contemporaries: Endre Ady, Judit Frigyesi, Sándor Weöres and Attila József, as well as Edwin Morgan.

While Paterson’s score is innovative in its approach and delivery, it wears the influence of Bartók’s work on its sleeve. However, it suffers in comparison. While Bluebeard’s Castle is a masterpiece, a shimmering, intensely unsettling, but beautifully scored existential tragedy, The 8th Door feels unremittingly dull and repetitive. This coupled with Matthew Lenton’s direction and Kai Fischer’s design, which instead of bringing freshness and modernity, is oddly outdated. Locked in their own vision of ‘modernity’ they seem to have failed to notice the real innovations in staging that are currently happening in theatre. (On a side note, among the clock-watching and harrumphing, there were two different walk-outs at around the 10-15 minute mark in my corner of the auditorium, both only returning to hear Bartók’s piece).

While Paterson’s brand spanking new work seems long at 40 minutes, Bluebeard’s Castle whips along at a cracking pace. Bartók’s 1918 modernist horror work feeling more innovative, more compelling and more resonant. As Bluebeard and Judith, Robert Hayward and Karen Cargill are in stunning vocal form and the orchestra of Scottish Opera, in particular its brass section, have rarely sounded finer.

While a journey into darkness and an unremitting blackness unite the two works, it’s the near 100 year-old piece that really resonates.

Runs on selected dates until 1 April then touring to Edinburgh Festival Theatre on 5 and 8 April 2017

For more information visit http://www.scottishopera.org.com

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.

the-trial-4

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.

the-trial-3

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.

the-trial-2

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/

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