Tag Archives: Sioned Gwen Davies

REVIEW: The Magic Flute – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Set in a steampunk landscape inspired by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne: a wicked queen, a handsome prince, a damsel in distress, high priests, a comedy side-kick, magical instruments, a serpent and some sorcerers are all given new life in Scottish Opera’s revival of Sir Thomas Allen’s joyous production of The Magic Flute. 

While the work’s misogyny and Masonic undertones have been long debated, it is impossible to judge an opera written in 1791 by 2019’s standards and this utterly charming, gorgeous looking and sounding version is guaranteed to win over even the hardest of hearts. Its three-hour run time passing by in the blink of an eye.

Of note are the irresistible Papageno, so cleverly and cheekily played by Richard Burkhard, his bang up-to-date, witty asides and ability to wrap the audience around his little finger are a delight; Dingle Yandell’s beautifully sung Speaker; a sure-sounding Sarastro in James Creswell; Gemma Summerfield – a radiant and glorious Pamina, and talent to look out for, Julia Sitkovetsky, who handles Der Hölle Rache, one of the most famous arias in all opera, absolutely beautifully.

This five star production is thanks to the stars aligning in every aspect of its creation: sure-footed direction, lively conducting, a laugh-out-loud and oh-so clever translation, perfect casting, an orchestra on top form and an innovative and captivating stage design. It’s not often achieved, but this is as near to perfection as it’s possible to get. 

Runs until 18 May 2019 then touring. Images – James Glossop.

 

REVIEW: Flight – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Jonathan Dove and April De Angelis’ contemporary opera Flight is almost universally loved and with good reason. A knockout score and a story filled with both drama and humour make it a hit with audiences world wide.

Image: James Glossop

Beginning as a story about a series of couples stranded at an airport due to electrical storms, librettist De Angelis discovered the real-life story of Mehran Karimi Nasseri stranded at Charles de Gaulle Airport from 1988 to 2006 (a story which spawned a book The Terminal Man; French movie Tombés du ciel (Lost in Transit); the Steven Spielberg film The Terminal; short story The Fifteen Year Layover; two documentaries Waiting For Godot at De Gaulle and Sir Alfred of Charles De Gaulle Airport as well as the mockumentary Here To Where) and she and Dove wove the story of a refugee hiding at the terminal around the more comic aspects of the opera. The relationships unravel and entwine and all the while the refugee strives to overcome his plight.

Image: James Glossop

Many of the cast reprise their roles from the previous Opera Holland Park production (Jennifer France as the Controller, Victoria Simmonds as Minskwoman and James Laing as the Refugee) and their comfort and familiarity with the roles shows, especially Countertenor Laing whose voice gives goose bumps) however, while France has an impressive top range she was a little underpowered at times). Peter Auty (Bill) and Stephanie Corley (Tina) provide comic relief as the long-married couple seeking to spice up their marriage as do Jonathan McGovern and Sioned Gwen Davies as the randy Steward and Stewardess.

Image: James Glossop

Image: James Glossop

The music has a mid-century cinema musical feel – almost Bernstein or Gershwin-like, it is, at all times, melodic and an absolute joy to the ear. However, personally I can’t help wonder if it would have sounded better for being less ‘operatic’ and more ‘musical theatre’: the operatic voices, in this production all excellent, don’t entirely do the fabulous score justice.

Image: James Glossop

This re-imagined production by director Stepehn Barlow and the design team of Andrew Riley, Richard Howell and Jack Henry James is an absolute joy to watch and listen to, a welcome addition to this season’s operatic programme at Scottish Opera and one not to miss.

Image: James Glossop

The production continues at Glasgow Theatre Royal until 24 February then at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh from 1 to 3 March 2018. 

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/