Opera Scotland

Capriccio 2004Edinburgh International Festival

Read more about the opera Capriccio

The 2004 Edinburgh Festival was a bit varied, operatically speaking. Very few of the offerings were completely satisfactory, though there was plenty of interest.

Th major visiting company was from Germany, but a Festival newcomer, the Hanover State Opera. In a mere four performances they presented the work of three of Europe's most controversial 'concept' direction teams. The single performance of Il trovatore, never presented at a previous Festival, was directed by the never-dull Catalan Calixto Bieito, whose production of Celestina for Birmingham Rep was also seen at the Festival. Peter Konwitschny's production was of Nono's massive Al gran sole carico d'amore, while Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito took a fresh look at Pelléas et Mélisande, given two performances to end the visit. The final staged opera was Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, presented by Opera North in a co-production with Emio Greco I PC. There were also four operas given in concert at the Usher Hall. A stimulating series gave a survey of the three major Weber operas - Der Freischütz, Euryanthe and Oberon. The first two had not been seen in Edinburgh in half a century. There was an excellent Bartók evening, including Duke Bluebeard's Castle. The final offering saw a vintage cast assembled for Strauss' Capriccio.

The debate continues as to whether the Edinburgh Festival should mount concert performances of operas instead of putting more effort into fully-staged productions. If it is accepted that concert performances are necessary, then this is perhaps an example of how to do it. Admittedly the conducting was not much more than competent, no doubt due to lack of rehearsal time. But some of the singing verged on the ideal, and several of the soloists were making first appearances in Edinburgh, with little prospect that they would ever do a staged production in future.

We must be glad to have had the opportunity to hear Jonas Kaufmann, Christopher Maltman, Solie Isokoski and Anne Sophie von Otter. With the addition of Barry Banks, Stephan Loges, Sarah Fox and a cameo from veteran John Mitchison, it all looks like a Golden Age now, though this was perhaps under-appreciated at the time. Indeed some of the reviews were unaccountably grudging, but they could not know that a staging that came in 2007 would make the advantages of a concert crystal clear.

Performance DatesCapriccio 2004

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Usher Hall | Edinburgh

22 Aug, 19.30

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