Opera Scotland

Beauty Stone 2018University of St Andrews G&S Society

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After their success last year with Sullivan's once-popular dramatic cantata The Golden Legend, it was good to see the St Andrews University team continue their exploratory work with the late romantic opera The Beauty Stone - a rarity that appears to be achieving a certain amount of reconsideration. This one-off concert performance was an interesting and worthwhile experiment, even if, for various reasons, it did not repeat the success of the cantata.

For The Golden Legend, James Green had prepared an arrangement of Sullivan's orchestral score for brass band, which worked very effectively. This time he conducted, and had a conventional orchestra. The level of previous experience of the performers was much lower than last year. Previously the soloists were St Andrews graduates returning from post-graduate study or professional singing careers. This time the whole enterprise was centred on giving valuable performance experience to undergraduates, with most of the soloists also boosting the choral sound.

For the most part this worked well, and gave a good idea of what is not an easy work to take in at a first live hearing. Stylistically it is, of course, more serious than Sullivan's operettas. There was the occasional reminder of The Yeomen of the Guard and The Gondoliers. However the sound world of his grand opera Ivanhoe was much closer.

James Green conducted with enthusiasm and also provided brief spoken narratives in place of the spoken dialogue. The only issue arose from the evident lack of rehearsal time. The conductor did say that the whole performance had been put together in just a month. For a team of students busy with other commitments that really wasn't enough, and the strain showed occasionally. However there was only one point, in the second act, when things briefly fell apart and had to be repeated. That in itself is excellent training for young performers, who just got on with the show.

So then, a worthwhile evening, with much to enjoy in a difficult work. Just a little more rehearsal next time, please.

Performance Cast

Philip Lord of Mirlemont

Cole Bendall

Guntran of Beaugrant

John Ellis

Simon Limal a Weaver

Ross McArthur

Nicholas Dircks Burgomaster of Mirlemont

Andrew Johnston

Devil

Ben Connaughton

Laine the Weaver's daughter

Rosie Beech

Joan the Weaver's wife

Alice Gold

Jacqueline

Chloe Fairbanks

Loyse from St Denis

Rebecca Anderson

Isabeau from Florennes

Becky Lakin

Barbe from Bovigny

Holly Scrivener

Saida

Jasmine Rodriguez

Production Cast

Conductor

James Green

Performance DatesBeauty Stone 2018

Map List

Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews | St Andrews

24 Feb, 19.00

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