Opera Scotland

Orfeo ed Euridice 2002Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Orpheus and Euridice

Scottish Opera's 2002-03 season was dominated by the continuation of its production by Tim Albery of The Ring. The third instalment, Siegfried, opened at the 2002 Festival, followed by performances in Glasgow, with Götterdämmerung scheduled for the Spring. Complete cycles were planned for the 2003 Edinburgh Festival and the opening of the main Glasgow autumn season.

The non-Wagner repertoire consisted of a revived Fledermaus and new Orfeo ed Euridice in the autumn, along with a medium-scale Bohème. The new year saw performances of Rigoletto, with The Magic Flute in the spring.

Scottish Opera's third staging of Gluck's deceptively difficult Orfeo was no more successful than the previous two and was not seen again. The set was actually simple and elegant, with distinct possibilities - three ramps sloping across the stage with gaps between, to allow for rapid arrival or departure of furies, blessed spirits, etc. The lighting was also quite subtle, and very effective at changing mood. A solitary harp up at the back provided a focus for the eye.

The three solo singers were also excellent, with Rachel Hynes a pure-voiced Euridice and Gillian Keith a perky Amor (perhaps too similar to her contemperaneous Woodbird in Siegfried). Orfeo himself was given a movingly restrained performance by Cécile van de Sant. Possessor of a beautiful well-schooled mezzo, she was also tall, slender and moved easily about the stage, making a very successful debut. Sadly, she was unwell on the opening night, and the replacement, it seems, only had a few hours to prepare and was understandably nervous.

The difficulties for this production, however, lay elsewhere. Raymond Leppard, whose experience with the piece included the Peter Hall staging and recording from Glyndebourne that marked Janet Baker's farewell to the stage in 1982, was unaccountably off-form. Tempi were generally sluggish and the musical execution by chorus and orchestra was not up to the usual standard. There just seemed to be an unusual lack of commitment to the work in hand. Stage direction was also largely absent. There was one solo dancer (Rachel Morrow), and the rest of the movement was in the hands of the chorus, normally excellent at such things - but this time they seemed to be given little to do, and there was a distinct lack of drama throughout.

Performance DatesOrfeo ed Euridice 2002

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Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

27 Nov, 19.15 30 Nov, 14.15 4 Dec, 19.15 7 Dec, 19.15 17 Dec, 19.15 20 Dec, 19.15

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

12 Dec, 19.15 14 Dec, 19.15

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