Tag Archives: Sir Thomas Allen

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: 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: John Wilson Orchestra – Rodgers and Hammerstein at the Movies, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

It was a triumphant return last night to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall for John Wilson and his spectacular orchestra. At the risk of boring everyone senseless again (I’ve waxed lyrical and at length about John Wilson on many occasions) I’ll keep it short.

Wilson’s careful and clever mix of well known and neglected, but no less beautiful tunes serves to remind us that some of the finest songs of the 20th Century were written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. 

The energy and virtuosity of the players and the enthusiasm and charisma of John Wilson manage to convey to each and every audience member the sheer joy and exuberance of this music. It is a privilege to be in the same room as these musicians and to hear this music. Vocalists Sir Thomas Allen, Julian Ovenden, Annalene Beechey and Kim Crisswell testify to the quality and sheer class of this outfit, all four made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end when they sang. The sell-out house were on their feet at the end and everyone on stage deserved no less acclaim. All I ask is that they hurry back to Glasgow as soon as they can.