Opera Scotland

Tamerlano 2006Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Tamerlano

The 2006/07 season of Scottish Opera showed the company gradually recovering from the disastrous financial collapse that had led to the shut-down in 2005. The Edinburgh Festival featured a new work by Stuart MacRae and Simon Armitage called The Assassin Tree. This was a co-production with Covent Garden. The season proper consisted of four full scale productions. The new staging in the autumn was Handel's Tamerlano, with Lucia di Lammermoor in the spring. The two revivals were of successful McVicar stagings - Der Rosenkavalier in the autumn, with Madama Butterfly to follow. A small-scale tour saw a first attempt at producing Viennese operetta in this manner. Die Fledermaus had a nineteen-stop tour with piano accompaniment in the autumn, to be followed in spring by a ten-night revival with small orchestra. The spring also saw the regular tour of operatic scenes and arias - Essential Scottish Opera.

After the delights of his Semele production, it was maybe inevitable that John la Bouchardière's staging of Tamerlano would be a slight anti-climax. Perhaps, also, the audience, largely unused to Handel, found the work unexpectedly difficult after the sparkling response to Congreve's sly humour the year before.

Musically there was little to complain of. Tom Randle was every bit as moving and dramatic as he had been as Idomeneo (too many years ago), and Gail Pearson made much of Asteria's notable music. The unexpected bonus was perhaps the wonderful performance of Jennifer Johnston, making her character into a major role. Opinions were divided on the virtues of Max Emanuel Cenčić, one of the leading members of the new generation of continental counter-tenors. Some found his voice too light at the start of the run, but it settled later on, so that he gave a finely calculated account of the difficult title role. He even managed to project a sense of character, with an exotic combination of the required hard-edge and soft centre.

The production was dominated by its set, which seemed to be a large salon in a museum - glass cases were dotted around with exhibits inside. But there were also steep ramps of sand which seemed to have worked their way in at several of the high windows - you almost expected an archaeologist to peer in at any moment. It all seemed to add little.

Performance Cast

Andronico a Greek prince, Tamerlano's ally

William Purefoy

Bajazet Sultan of Turkey, now a prisoner

Tom Randle

Tamerlano Emperor of the Tartars

Max Emanuel Cenčić

Asteria Bajazet's daughter

Gail Pearson

Irene Princess of Trebizond

Jennifer Johnston

Leone confidant of Andronico and Tamerlano

Jonathan Best

Performance DatesTamerlano 2006

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

7 Nov, 19.15 9 Nov, 19.15 11 Nov, 19.15 16 Nov, 19.15 18 Nov, 14.15

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

24 Nov, 19.15 30 Nov, 19.15 2 Dec, 19.15

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