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. Â This openingÂ 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 isÂ the story of the downfall of Don JosÃ©, a naÃ¯ve soldier, who is seduced by the fiery gypsy, Carmen. JosÃ© abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts the military, yet still loses Carmen’s love to the glamorousÂ toreador, Escamillo â€“ and JosÃ© takes his revenge.
The relatively small cast wasÂ all brilliant, whether singing, dancing, fighting or loving! The numbers were both enhanced and increased by the confident Children’s Chorus – Â 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.
SomeÂ 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 whichÂ 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).
More information at www. scottishopera.org.uk