Opera Scotland

Threepenny Opera 2019Aberdeen University Opera Society

Read more about the opera Threepenny Opera

The University of Aberdeen Opera Society have staged a wide variety of productions over the years including Carmen and Magic Flute. This year however their most unusual, not to say challenging choice, is a production of the Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.

The setting and costumes

The production took place in the William Guild Building, with a seating capacity of up to six hundred. Its wide but not very deep stage was brilliantly exploited to the full by director Thomas Henderson and production designer Jillian Bain Christie. Lighting and the power of acting soon transformed the space into the ragged areas of London where the action is supposed to take place.

Some of the costumes were impressive, in particular that of Mr Peachum. With his somewhat alarming make up, he was reminiscent of cartoons by George Grosz in the Germany of the period.

The performance

Every one of the principals projected richly coloured characterisations. As Macheath, Ross Cumming exuded a sleazy aura. Superb acting and his clear cut baritonal splendour really hit home. As Mr Peachum, Joona Juntunen, a Finnish national, had perfectly well clipped English and his rich bass voice projected alpha male power. Erin Ralph as his wife joined him spectacularly in their duet 'Kids Today' while in 'The Ballad of Sexual Dependancy', Erin came across as both alarming and funny.

Lisa Johnston as their daughter Polly used her clear soprano to fine effect in both the 'Pirate Jenny' song and in her duet with Emily Scott who matched her nicely as Lucy Brown.

Another two fine baritones were Conrad Chatterton as the bent police chief ‘Tiger’ Brown who joined with Ross Cumming in their updated version of the Cannon Song and Seb LimSeet whose smooth tenor baritone was absolutely glorious in the 'Ballad of Mack the Knife'.

Caitlin Bell’s fantastic stage presence as Jenny was marvellous in the 'Solomon Song'.

The first ever production used just seven musicians playing over twenty parts. By comparison, Professor Paul Meallor conducted eleven players.  His musicians brought out many fine details in Weill’s highly coloured scoring.  Particularly fine performances came from pianist Dr Jeremy Coleman and two ace percussionists Peter Ney and Murray Bartle. The full chorus conclusion was magnificent, full of colour both visually and vocally.

The production was repeated on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 March.

Alan Cooper

 

Performance DatesThreepenny Opera 2019

Map List

William Guild Building | Aberdeen

15 Mar, 19.30 16 Mar, 19.30 17 Mar, 19.30

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