Opera Scotland

Cavalleria Rusticana 2019Edinburgh Grand Opera

Read more about the opera Cavalleria Rusticana

Usually when Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, is presented it will be followed after the interval by Leoncavallo's most well-known opera, Pagliacci. Sometines the order is changed as an experiment. In recent years these works have sometimes been paired with other pieces, such as one or other of Puccini's Trittico works. Last summer, Scottish Opera enjoyed a success with their brief run of Pagliacci on its own in a large tent. That worked very well on its own terms, and showed that particular melodrama to stand securely on its own. For their 2019 production, Edinburgh Grand took up the challenge of playing Cav on its own, and in general made a good job of it.

Like Pagliacci, it divides into two sections, linked by the famous Intermezzo. Unlike the Leoncavallo, however, there does seem to be a sense of imbalance. The first pert lasts almost an hour, ending with the revelation by Santuzza to Alfio of his wife's resumed affair with Turiddu. This provides a natural opportunity for a pause, though it does not usually, as here, have an interval. The second part is much shorter - barely a half hour - and consists mainly of post-church jollifications for the community and the developing argument between the two men. Santuzza herself has only one line to utter as the tragedy unfolds, and Mamma Lucia not much more, so the second section can seem a bit perfunctory.

The staging by Kally Lloyd-Jones in general worked well. She took the opportunity to introduce an element of movement to the two orchestral introductions, with five dancers from her own Company Chordelia making a positive impression.  The designs were simple - a few tables and benches, the only colours used being black and white. Before proceedings got under way there were strings of laundry across the stage, one sheet being left high up as a screen for the surtitle projection (a clever touch, if slightly inappropriate for Easter Sunday in a devout community).

Alistair Digges conducted a well-paced performance. The reduced orchestration (by Tony Burke of Pocket Publications) employed quintets of strings and of winds, plus trumpet, trombone and electronic keyboard. The last sounded fine when impersonating harp or organ, but was less effective for the important church bell sequences.

The drama was effectively set out by the five principals, with tenor and baritone both currently advanced students at the Conservatoire in Glasgow. Perhaps most impressive was the Alfio, who used stillness very effectively to depict a thoroughly controlled and dangerous individual. This contrasted most effectively with the clearly out of control and intoxicated Turiddu. Arthur Bruce also projected the outstanding vocal performance, with some fine trenchant singing. Thomas Kinch gave a contrasted characterization - maudlin and drunk, then sobering up (though not nearly enough) when he realised he had gone too far with his challenge. With these two ill-matched opponents the outcome of the fight was clearly a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately the tenor had some rough momemts vocally, particularly raw at the top when the voice came under pressure.

Of the three ladies, Melanie Gowie took a few minutes to settle vocally, but was excellent in 'Voi lo sapete' and the Easter Hymn. Julie Martin-Carter was a warm and sympathetic Lucia, clearly mystified at the sudden turn of events. Angela Estrada's Lola also made its mark as her sense of panic set in. The chorus had a few rough edges on opening night - especially from the sopranos - but will no doubt settle at later performances.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Prices

 Tickets £13.20 / £17.80 / £22 - prices include booking fee

Performance Cast

Santuzza a village girl

Melanie Gowie

Mamma Lucia the innkeeper, Turiddu’s mother

Julie Martin-Carter

Alfio the village carter

Arthur Bruce

Turiddu a young soldier

Thomas Kinch

Lola Alfio’s wife

Angela Estrada

Performance DatesCavalleria Rusticana 2019

Map List

Church Hill Theatre | Edinburgh

27 Mar, 19.30 29 Mar, 19.30 30 Mar, 16.00

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