Opera Scotland

Two Widows 2008Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Two Widows

Scottish Opera's 2008-09 season was unusual, in that it did not feature any revivals. What is more, the level of presentation, musical and dramatic, was also of a consistently high standard. Perhaps the one slight disappointment was the Edinburgh Festival offering, a rare staging of Smetana's charming domestic comedy The Two Widows. This was the company's second production of the piece. It was joined by two popular classics, La traviata and Così fan tutte, both directed in memorably intelligent fashion by David McVicar. The rarities were by Cimarosa (The Secret Marriage) and Massenet (Manon). Bellini's I puritani was given in a single concert performance. These were all company premieres. The small-scale tour was, unusually, an operetta, The Merry Widow. After the great success of the previous year's opener, the company also put on a second group of new, experimental 15-minute chamber dramas in the 5:15 series. Another welcome rarity was the next collaboration with the RSAMD - a large student cast assisted by Scottish Opera's musicians and technical staff, in a hugely enjoyable version of Prokofiev's Love For Three Oranges.

Scottish Opera had produced three works by Smetana in the past, all directed by David Pountney, so it was time to let another director have a go. The translation he and Leonard Hancock had prepared for Wexford thirty years before was still eminently usable.

Whether the company's fourth Smetana production should have been a return to this charming comedy is debatable, when The Kiss and The Secret, among others, await British productions. Never mind, The Two Widows is a lovely work, and it was a surprising choice to mark the debut of Francesco Corti in his new appointment.

The cast was excellent, with Jane Irwin, moving into soprano territory, having a particular success as the more serious cousin. There was an excellent new tenor from Canada, while a young British tenor made his Scottish Opera debut in a small role which had marked the debut a generation earlier of Bonaventura Bottone. One nagging doubt remained, that the whole enterprise suffered from a lack of the intimacy and warmth of humanity which had been such a strong feature of the older staging.

Performance Cast

Karolina Zaleská a wealthy widow

Kate Valentine

Anežka Miletinská Karolina's cousin, also a widow

Jane Irwin

Mumlal a gamekeeper

Nicholas Folwell

Ladislav Podhájský

David Pomeroy

Toník a peasant boy

Ben Johnson

Lidunka a peasant girl

Rebecca Ryan

Performance DatesTwo Widows 2008

Map List

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

9 Aug, 19.15 11 Aug, 19.15 12 Aug, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

10 Oct, 19.15 14 Oct, 19.15 17 Oct, 19.15

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