Opera Scotland

Opera Scenes 3 2016Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

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'An entertaining and varied mixture of short opera scenes, performed with simple staging and piano accompaniment. Opera Scenes gives developing vocal and opera students the opportunity to hone and display their craft in public, whilst introducing audiences to new repertoire, mixed with old favourites.'

That is how the RCS markets these thoroughly enjoyable events in which the young performers (14 singers, with four pianists) are put through their paces. It does rather understate the level of ambition and attainment, at least if the second night of this third batch is representative. The third item, for instance, was the opening of the second act of Der Rosenkavalier, sung in fluent German. Not just the Presentation of the Rose, but all the excitement leading to it and the nervous dialogue afterwards, up to the entry music for Ochs. Apart from Charlie Drummond (Sophie), Lynn Bellamy (Octavian) and Maria Hughes (Marianne) we had singers providing the opening lines for Faninal and Major-domo, who then joined the others backstage for the shouts of 'Rofrano!' as Octavian arrived. This all worked very convincingly, was well sung and had plenty of amusing detail in the acting.

This was followed by the first half of the opening act of Die Fledermaus (and has any of this Viennese classic been performed in Scotland in German before?). We had, complete with dialogue, Adele's opening solo, Alfred's offstage vocals, the exchanges between them and Rosalinde, the arguments of Eisenstein and his lawyer, and the arrival of Falke. The extract ended with Eisenstein's departure for the ball. Lots of high spirits, confidently handled and well controlled. A work that has seemed sadly jaded in some recent performances came over very freshly.

There were four extracts by Donizetti - one serious and three comic. The duet from the late Maria Padilla is a super piece, perhaps not as instantly attractive as the tenor's mad scene, but still good stuff. The sequence from L'elisir - 'Una furtiva lagrima' through 'Prendi per me' to the reconciliation - also came over beautifully. In Don Pasquale the baritone gave a lovely account of 'Bella siccome un angelo' and the Fille du régiment piece was full of appropriate high spirits.

The other items included a moving duet from Il re pastore - worthy to stand with the later Idomeneo or Clemenza di Tito. The Pagliacci scene that followed was something of a stylistic leap, but given a beautifully mature performance.  And the wonderful finale from Thaïs showed us a glimpse of another Massenet work that deserves to be staged far more often.

The programme for the evening was:

Donizetti Maria Padilla: Act 2 Duet - Victoria Stevens (Maria), Annabella Ellis (Inez); Paul Plummer (piano).

Donizetti La fille du régiment: Act 1 Duet - Joanna Norman (Marie), Alexey Gusev (Sulpice); Erik Garcia (piano).

R Strauss Der Rosenkavalier: Act 2 extract - Alexey Gusev (Faninal), Charlie Drummond (Sophie), Maria Hughes (Marianne), David Horton (Major-domo), Lynn Bellamy (Octavian); Michal Gajzler (piano).

J Strauss Die Fledermaus: Act 1 extract - Richard Shaffrey (Alfred), Klaudia Korzeniewska (Adele), Anne-Marie Loveday (Rosalinde), David Horton (Eisenstein), Glen Cunningham (Blind), Alexey Gusev (Falke); Paul Plummer (piano).

Donizetti Don Pasquale: Act 1 extract - Stefan Berkieta (Don Pasquale), Alexey Gusev (Dr Malatesta); Beth Jerem (piano).

Mozart Il re pastore: Act 1 Duet - Victoria Stevens (Aminta), Joanna Norman (Elisa); Erik Garcia (piano).

Leoncavallo Pagliacci: Act 1 Duet - Maria Hughes (Nedda), Christopher Nairne (Silvio); Paul Plummer (piano).

Donizetti L'elisir d'amore: Act 2 extract - Richard Shaffrey (Nemorino), Klaudia Korzeniewska (Adina); Beth Jerem (piano).

Massenet Thaïs: Act 3 Final Scene - Charlie Drummond (Thaïs), Christopher Nairne (Athanaël), Lynn Bellamy (Albine); Erik Garcia (piano).

Paul Plummer was Musical Director in overall charge, and his three colleagues were every bit as good. Ashley Dean directed the scenes tactfully, with only a couple of misjudgments in the silly walks department. All in all a stimulating evening.

Performance DatesOpera Scenes 3 2016

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Royal Conservatoire of Scotland | Glasgow

3 Jun, 19.15 4 Jun, 19.15

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