Carmen: Charismatic and Colourful.

Scottish Opera has long been considered as ranking highly amongst the best not only for musical standards of the highest quality, but also for productions which are colourful, charismatic and often unusual.  This opening night at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, was magical.

The new production is a joint venture between Scottish Opera and Welsh National Opera. I cannot think of any lover of music who does not know the story and the music of this opera. We know the music, the colourful story the tragedy and occasionally the flashes of albeit dark humour. And for anyone new to opera, or a bit unsure if it’s all too ‘highbrow’ or ‘not for them’ – here is the perfect place to start. (Rest assured Bizet’s music is familiar to all!)

This opera is the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier, who is seduced by the fiery gypsy, Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts the military, yet still loses Carmen’s love to the glamorous toreador, Escamillo – and José takes his revenge.

The relatively small cast was all brilliant, whether singing, dancing, fighting or loving! The numbers were both enhanced and increased by the confident Children’s Chorus –  so important both in encouraging young people and introducing them to the concept of learning and being part of major productions, and the world of opera in general.

Some of the audience may have found a mild incongruity in the very Spanish story being sung in French with English surtitles. But in my mind this was most appropriate and an excellent example of three European language in harmony. The scarlet colour of the curtains and the association with the scarlet Carmen worked beautifully and until the very end at the curtain call was an excellent contrast to the beige and grey of many of the sets and costumes.

The Conductor role is shared between David Parry and Derek Clark at the performances which are currently touring around Scotland, ending back with the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh on the 14th of this month.

The cast, in order of appearance are Andrew MxTaggart (Morales a corporal): Nadine Livingston (Micaela, a peasant girl): Noah Stewart (Don Jose, a corporal): Timothy Dickinson (Zuniga, a lieutenant): Justine Gringyte (Carmen, a gypsy): Ellie Laugharne (Frasquita, a gypsy): Marie Claire Breen (Mercedes, a gypsy): Francois Menard-Noens (Lilias Pastia/Guide): Roland Wood (Escamillo, a toreador): Andrew Dickinson (Le Dancaire, a smuggler): and Nicholas Sharratt (Le Remendado, a smuggler).

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Christine Richard OBE FRSA Christine has over 25 years' experience in public life in Scotland in the fields of politics, education, public relations and charity work. For 12 years she served on the City of Edinburgh District Council and was her Group's leader for 4 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was made an OBE. Christine is a member of the Board of The Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy. She has just completed six years on the Board of The Edinburgh International Festival. Christine's business experience has covered the fields of theatre, economic development, science, coal mining, education and training. She has held a number of non-executive directorships in these disciplines. She is a trained and experienced personal relationships counsellor and a business and personal mentor. In 2005 Christine established Christine Richard Associates who undertake Event Management and Public Relations as well as company and individual profiling. She coordinated the 'Yes to Edinburgh' campaign on congestion charging in Edinburgh. ten years ago Christine co-founded West Lothian Women in Business, which is a network for women who are self-employed and also for women managers. Christine has now stepped down from the Chair of this thriving organisation. For 5 years Christine was a magistrate in the District Court. She was also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on the appointment of Justices of the Peace. She has been an adviser to Government in various areas of policy, including health, local government and education. Christine is a trained and experienced radio and television broadcaster and writer as well as an entertaining and accomplished speaker. She has a wealth of topics on which she is invited to speak. These range from witty after lunch and after dinner speaking to the more serious topics of the economy, health, education, enterprise, the Powers of the Mind and Life/work balance. She writes reviews and articles for lifestyle magazine, Lothian Life. She took part as a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D'Acampo to cook her signature dish, Posh Cottage Pie. Currently Christine is a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland's Futures. Also she is involved in the group Changing the Chemistry of Scottish Boards. Her first novel, Whitewalls, a modern Scottish family saga has been published by New Generation Publishing and is available on all internet books siets and from libraries. She is writing a sequel Autumn at Whitewalls. Her leisure interests include her family, literature, music, theatre, food, wine and horse racing. She is a member of a racing syndicate, which has two horses in training.

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