Tag Archives: The Sunday Series

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 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.