Opera Scotland

Rheingold 2019Edinburgh Players Opera Group

Read more about the opera Rhinegold

Wagner's Ring was the reason for Edinburgh Players Opera Group to be established back at the beginning of the century.  While they have also studied other works by Wagner, and more recently Strauss,  it was only a matter of time before they returned to first principles and started work on a third cycle.

No doubt some of the musicians and soloists have been regular participants since the start in 2001. Conductor Mike Thorne has certainly provided inspired leadership every year. However some players can only have been at school, perhaps primary, when the sequence began.

Many of the performers try out parts that they hope to sing again on a larger stage in the future.  Among the singers were several familiar names.  Jonathan Finney has sung most of the leading tenor roles, rarely missing a year - Tannhäuser, Tristan, Walther and Parsifal, as well as Siegmund, Siegfried and some Strauss equivalents. Loge allowed him to provide more character and even some occasional comedy, with careful attention to diction and phrasing.  Elaine McKrill, having sung dramatic soprano parts, even including Elektra, now tried out a mezzo role for the first time, and showed that in years to come she will be able to tackle not just Fricka, but other parts requiring the lower range.  Next year will give her the opportunity to reveal some more trenchant tone in her arguments with her husband.

Julian Tovey had appeared several times before in the big Strauss roles - Jochanaan,  Aegisthus and Barak. To launch an attack on the Wagner repertoire with Wotan may seem ambitious, but he showed no trace of fatigue at any time.  The other gods were all well projected - a nice lyrical Froh from Andrew Powis, a vigorous and well-projected Donner from Arthur Bruce - now an Emerging Artist with Scottish Opera and even allowed to trot over to the percussion section to unleash his own thunderbolt.  Deborah Humble was a beautifully smooth-toned alto as Erda delivering her Warning - so very different from her Klytemnestra two years ago.  Susan McNaught avoided the shrillness that often seems to beset the part of Freia.

Of the others, Stuart Pendred stood out as a well-projected and suitably venomous Alberich.  Andrew Powis doubled as Mime, changing his vocal production to the different character with apparent ease. If he is ever asked to sing this role on stage, though, he may need allowances to be made for his not-so-dwarfish stature.

Last year's Salome, Mariya Krywaniuk, returned for what might have seemed a less challenging part, starting things off by leading the trio of Rhinemaidens - but they each have important solos in the opening scene, and she was thoroughly reliable providing the top line for Emily Hodkinson and Lauren Young to harmonise.  The two giants also made a fine impression - Oskar McCarthy a newcomer and Colin Heggie one of the most  reliable contributors over the years.

Mike Thorne, as usual, held things together well and paced the piece quite naturally.  Speeds were certainly faster than some conductors take, but never seemed in any way rushed.  There were remarkably few fluffs from the band - perhaps the horns in the opening bars could have been more accurate, but they warmed up later on.

The venue was different this year.   Portobello Town Hall has served well over the years, but another venue was needed, reportedly because structural problems were identified with the ceiling at Portobello. Götterdämmerung might even have arrived early.  It may have been thought that Broughton High School, closer to the centre of Edinburgh, would attract more spectators (with a suggested donation of £15).  Unfortunately, the numbers of those attending a fine 'play-through' fell short on previous years.  Although all attending are warmly welcomed, the prime purpose of the weekend is to provide a thrilling experience for the musicians who are otherwise unlikely to have the opportunity to tackle this glorious music, and this it did.

Next year will of course be devoted to a study of Die Walküre for two days, Friday and Saturday 25-26 September. The run through will be on Sunday 27th.

Performance Cast

Woglinde a Rhinemaiden

Mariya Krywaniuk

Wellgunde a Rhinemaiden

Emily Hodkinson

Flosshilde a Rhinemaiden

Lauren Young

Alberich a Nibelung

Stuart Pendred

Fricka wife of Wotan and goddess of marriage

Elaine McKrill

Wotan leader of the gods

Julian Tovey

Freia sister of Fricka and goddess of love and spring

Susan McNaught

Fasolt a giant

Oskar McCarthy

Fafner a giant

Colin Heggie

Froh god of joy and youth

Andrew Powis

Donner god of thunder

Arthur Bruce

Loge god of fire and cunning

Jonathan Finney

Mime a Nibelung, Alberich's brother

Andrew Powis

Erda goddess of earth and wisdom

Deborah Humble

Performance DatesRheingold 2019

Map List

Broughton High School | Edinburgh

29 Sep, 14.00

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