Opera Scotland

Devil Inside 2016Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Devil Inside

After a brief appearance at the Edinburgh International Festival, with an enjoyable concert performance of H M S Pinafore, Scottish Opera's 2015-16 season proper began with a revival of the staging of Carmen by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser. This was originated by Welsh National Opera, and first mounted by Scottish Opera in 1999. This ran in tandem with a new small-scale tour of Così fan tutte. In the New Year the premiere of a new work by Stuart MacRae, The Devil Inside, was followed by three further operas being given by the company for the first time - Ariodante, Rusalka and The Mikado.

The MacRae/Welsh combination was one of the most interesting pairings to emerge from the Five:15 series of mini operas a few years ago. The composer and librettist revealed a distinct talent for a quirky creepiness. This embryonic success was confirmed quite conclusively with the success of Ghost Patrol, an excellent little work on a highly thought-provoking theme, that had a haunting and lasting impact.

Their follow-up was therefore greatly anticipated, and for the most part those hopes have been fulfilled. A sense of evil is once again to the fore. In seven scenes, this time in two short acts, the drama is unfolded logically with character development evident throughout the hour and forty minutes. The adjustments by Louise Welsh to the basic Stevenson story work well - indeed there is a logic in the new ending that brings the plot full circle in an altogether satisfying manner.

A team of excellent singing actors was assembled to present this adaptation of Stevenson's horror story. The central character of James was given an excellent performance by Ben McAteer. The long role was beautifully sung in a high lyric baritone, familiar from several performances at St Andrews. Nicholas Sharratt, having been excellent in Ghost Patrol, was now an experienced MacRae hand and the music for Richard fitted his voice well. Rachel Kelly was new, and we will surely hear more of her too. Steven Page doubled the roles of the old man who starts the process off and the vagrant who allows the eventual solution to occur. As always, every word of his was completely clear. Indeed excellent diction was a notable feature of the entire evening. Every singer projected the words with absolute clarity, rendering the superrtitles almost redundant.

MacRae has developed a highly personal style of composition that is immediately attractive, and he orchestrates the work well - the clarity with which the voices come across owes much to his management. There are many points where the band sounds quite dramatic yet there is never even a hint of the singers struggling to be heard. Matthew Richardson's staging, in economical designs by Samal Blak, did everything required, and the 14 soloists from the Orchestra of Scottish Opera produced some beautiful playing under Michael Rafferty.

The whole production was now taken over by Music Theatre Wales for a tour taking in London (Peacock Theatre 3 & 4 Feb), Cardiff (Sherman 9 Feb), Basingstoke (Anvil 10 Feb), Manchester (RNCM 16 Feb), Aberystwyth (Arts Centre 23 Feb) and Huddersfield (Lawrence Batley Theatre 26 Feb).  The opera was then seen in Toronto.

Performance DatesDevil Inside 2016

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

23 Jan, 19.15 26 Jan, 19.15

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

29 Jan, 19.15 30 Jan, 19.15

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