Review: Highlights of Scottish Opera at Linlithgow Academy

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Three stars

SOPRANO Zoe Drummond, who is Australian, and Welsh tenor Osian Wyn Bowen are the two current members of Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists program in the new incarnation of the piano-accompanied Opera Highlights tour that has already been as far as Yell in the Shetland Islands.

They have a lovely melodic duet in a “I know a pretty girl” from Smetana’s The Bartered Bride in the sequence of lighter music that characteristically concludes the evening, when the Welsh tenor also delivers a solo highlight with a tune of Robinson rarely heard of Offenbach. Crusoe.

Although both are in English, the duo also sing in German and Italian and have French solos by Lalo and Gounod that suit their vocals well, while Drummond has another centerpiece from the first half in Russian under the name of Snow Maiden by Rimsky-Korsakov.

Australian/Cypriot mezzo Shakira Tsindos is initially less well served by Handel and Gluck’s earlier music which does not play to her vocal strengths. The cast’s 1970s-themed costumes have her dressed in mauve velvet pants, a denim vest, and rainbow socks, which also doesn’t quite match the gothic quality of his music.

She seems much more at home in the later drama of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia.

Scottish baritone Christopher Nairne completes the quartet, and he and Wyn Bowen end the first half of the program with the hit duet “Au fond du temple saint” from Bizet’s The Pearlfishers.

Zoe Drummond and Osian Wyn Bowen Pic: Fraser-bandFraser Band

He also plays the central role in composer Toby Hession’s new commission which opens the second half, entitled Told by an Idiot and inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Director Emma Jenkins, who also wrote the libretto for this play, imposed no narrative concept on her opera highlights, and that serves this premiere better than has often been the case with these recent additions. to the package.

A Play for Today-style pocket tilt to tragedy, a possible nod to Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party may have prompted these costumes, but either way, it’s a highlight of the whole night, and is appropriately followed by Wyn Bowen singing Macduff’s aria from Verdi’s version of the same tale.

It is the tenor who also demonstrates the highest degree of skill in chalk drawing on the blackboard surfaces of Janis Hart’s modular set design that the cast perform to illustrate the music.

While this device has its later moments (notably in Drummond’s quiet appearance as the Pearlfishers duo’s love object), it’s distractingly difficult early on – these four excellent vocalists have a lot to offer. do in this Highlights, but not enough to sing together as an ensemble.

On tour until October 29 and at Yetholm on Tuesday, Stranraer on Thursday and Castle Douglas on Saturday.

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