Opera Scotland

Candide 1981Birmingham Repertory Company

Read more about the opera Candide

In 1981 it was a surprise when the Cologne Opera's return visit was announced, only a year after their first appearance in Edinburgh. But their chief conductor, Sir John Pritchard, had a connection going right back to the earliest years of the Festival. This time they brought another Mozart piece, Clemenza, the Rossini Barber, and a recent British piece, Musgrave's Voice of Ariadne, unjustly neglected since its Aldeburgh premiere. Scottish Opera provided a lively modernised treatment of Gay's Beggar's Opera, not admired by everyone. Perhaps the greatest delight of all came from a rare staging of Leonard Bernstein's bubbly operetta Candide. This was put on in the Assembly Hall by Clive Perry's Birmingham Rep company.

One of the most effervescent shows to have been seen at the Assembly Hall during Festival time, this production was a revelation for those who had not encountered the work live before. It ran throughout the Festival in repertoire with more usual Assembly Hall fare in the shape of a staging of As You Like It, which, it must be said, seemed somewhat lacking in high spirits by comparison with the Bernstein.

The Assembly Hall's usual thrust stage, with audience on three sides, worked a treat. Grant Hossack's wonderful little band was sunk in a hole in the middle, surrounded by the all-singing all-dancing activity. The set was minimal - a few suggestive bits and pieces, including pantomime llamas. Rosemary Ashe and William Relton made a delightfully sweet lead couple. Ex-crooner Mark Wynter also had a perfect sense of timing, and Nickolas Grace was a wonderfully dry-voiced Pangloss. Nichola McAuliffe effortlessly stole every scene as the Old Lady.

Further dates to be added.

Performance DatesCandide 1981

Map List

Assembly Hall | Edinburgh

29 Aug, 14.30

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