Opera Scotland

Donna del Lago 2006Edinburgh International Festival

Read more about the opera Donna del Lago

The 2006 Edinburgh International Festival was the last under the distinguished direction of Brian McMaster, though his skills in achieving a fascinating balance of music, theatre, dance and opera were undiminished. Undoubtedly the hottest tickets were for Claudio Abbado's final operatic performances in Edinburgh, in Die Zauberflöte. The Opéra de Lyon made a welcome return with Peter Stein's production of Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa and a double-bill of two Weill pieces, The Lindbergh Flight and The Seven Deadly Sins. The Festival mounted the world premiere of Stuart MacRae's first opera, The Assassin Tree, in a co-production with Covent Garden. In addition, three operas appeared in concert - Elektra to open and Mastersingers to close. Between those came a revelatory performance of Rossini's Lady of the Lake.

This was the first performance in Scotland of a lovely score, based on an important work of Scott, which until quite recently was a set text for everyone at school. The Lady of the Lake may no longer be read as widely as it once was, but that is no reason to neglect the opera derived from it. Rather, it is the fiendish difficulty of performing the work adequately that has prevented its more regular presentation.

For this concert (and the associated recording) a wonderful cast was assembled, with Carmen Giannattasio making her British debut in the title role. The Irish mezzo Patricia Bardon, previously an excellent Carmen with Scottish Opera, made a great impression in the rather old-fashioned trouser-role of the hero. The two tenor characters are dramatically rather ambiguous - on the face of it the king is the more romantic figure, though his behaviour is hardly ideal, while Rodrigo is a rebel, but not entirely villainous. What is important is that the two tenors need fabulous technical ability while being instantly distinguishable. Here they were taken by two expert but very different Americans, the sweet-voiced Kenneth Tarver as the king, and Gregory Kunde, with more of a ring to his tone, as Rodrigo. Under the expert guidance of Maurizio Benini, the Edinburgh Festival Chorus were on rousing form in the gathering of the clans, and glorious sounds came from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Performance Cast

Giacomo King James V, disguised as Uberto of Snowdon

Kenneth Tarver

Elena Ellen, daughter of Douglas

Carmen Giannattasio

Douglas d’Angus Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus

Robert Gleadow

Rodrigo di Dhu Roderick Dhu, a rebel chief

Gregory Kunde

Malcolm Graeme a rebel, in love with Ellen

Patricia Bardon

Albina Ellen’s attendant

Francesca Sassu

Serano a follower of Douglas

Mark Wilde

Bertram the king’s squire

Mark Wilde

Performance DatesDonna del Lago 2006

Map List

Usher Hall | Edinburgh

18 Aug, 19.30

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