Opera Scotland

Occasione fa il ladro 2017Raucous Rossini

Read more about the opera Occasione fa il ladro

This exciting group of young musicians and singers has now worked its way through four of Rossini's early one-acters in the past four years. With the fifth, The Silken Ladder, being delivered by Scottish Opera a few months ago, we have been in a privileged position to become acquainted with a little-known, but delightful, sector of the master's output. L'occasione fa il ladro, variously translated as (literally) Opportunity Makes the Thief, or (perhaps more imaginatively) Love's Luggage Lost, has in recent years been seen at the Buxton Festival and Opera North, and is certainly good enough to justify that exposure.

A pattern of performance has now developed in which the company give two performances in Glasgow and one at a second Scottish venue, before travelling to the south of England and then giving some performances in Italy. The  rural performance venue in 2015 was at Kippen near Stirling, and last year they were at a country house, Hill of Tarvit, in Fife. Both those venues, like Glasgow, attracted good-sized and enthusiastic audiences. This year the company went further north, to Aberdeen, while the city's long-established International Youth Festival was in full swing. The venue, Mid Stocket Church, is an attractive and airy auditorium with a helpful acoustic, and located in a pleasant residential area near the hospital. The performance was at 4.00pm, on a nice sunny Saturday afternoon. This all seemed highly promising, but for some reason, the enterprise attracted a wretchedly small audience, significantly outnumbered by the performers. This was a great shame to put it mildly, and the huge enthusiasm of those who did attend must still have been little compensation for the effort required in travelling so far just before they head out to Italy.

The missing spectators undoubtedly lost out, as the quality of the performance was quite delightful. The orchestra is made up of hugely talented players who overcome Rossini's technical difficulties with ease. Several of them were recognised from the previous Saturday's Clyde Opera Group Rigoletto in Glasgow - it is good to see these young players gaining a range of experience, even if the financial side must be precarious for them.

While the overture is scarcely known at all, it contains a couple of delightful melodies and leads to a beautifully engineered storm sequence. This takes us straight into the establishment of the plot, with the brief scene in which the two gentlemen shelter from the storm at an inn, and their suitcases are swapped in error.  Events in the more elaborate second scene could have been more confusing for the audience, but Ella Marchment's economical staging made all the possible sources of difficulty clear, managing the complex entrances and exits with ease.

The singers all made an excellent impression. Kieran White and Barbara Cole Walton as the romantic leads had a series of highly attractive arias and duets that showed off their well-schooled and sweet-toned instruments very effectively. Fiona Joice has a nice warm mezzo that should develop nicely, and produced a nice perky characterisation. Colin Murray as her lover managed to retain sympathy for a character whose actions could have come over as very dubious indeed. Jonathan Kennedy projected plenty of character as the servant. Perhaps the most surprising interpretation was that of Samuel Jenkins as Don Eusebio. The role of the heroine's uncle or guardian is most likely to be played as an old buffer, and sometimes a rather ill-natured one. Here we had a much younger character, sharp suited, and sharply characteerised, which made a pleasant surprise, so different from the usual interpretation.

This staging is clearly in fine fettle, and ready for an enjoyable Italian excursion - though the performers should perhaps be careful with their luggage.

Performance Cast

Don Parmenione a gentleman on his travels

Colin Murray

Conte Alberto betrothed to Berenice

Kieran White

Martino Alberto's servant

Jonathan Kennedy

Don Eusebio Berenice's uncle

Samuel Jenkins

Berenice a young lady

Barbara Cole Walton

Ernestina Berenice's friend

Fiona Joice

Performance DatesOccasione fa il ladro 2017

Map List

Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow | Glasgow

2 Aug, 20.00 3 Aug, 20.00

Midstock Church | Aberdeen

5 Aug, 16.00

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