Opera Scotland

Duke Bluebeard's Castle 2016Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra

Read more about the opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle

This operatic themed concert by the forces of Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra was a thoroughly enjoyable event, under the guidance of conductor Gerard Doherty. 

The overture to Verdi's Force of Destiny was the only standard work, and it was cleanly dispatched. The orchestral suite to Janáček's Cunning Little Vixen is rarely heard, and so-called 'amateur' orchestras rarely tackle works by the Moravian master. What made this event even more important was the fact that they were performing an edition of the piece as edited by that much-missed expert on the composer, Sir Charles Mackerras, and may therefore be accepted as a Scottish premiere. It sounded beautiful in the warm acoustic of Greyfriars Kirk.

The highlight of the evening, though, came in the second part, with a concert performance of Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle. Bartók is another important composer of the last century who tends to be neglected by amateur groups. Here the performance was confident and well-controlled from the start, with that peculiarly mysterious sonority that immediately projects us into Bluebeard's sound world. The important climaxes, with the organ combining with choirs of brass, came across with special effectiveness.

In this resonant acoustic, the two soloists might have been expected to struggle with word projection, even with an English translation. The soloists achieved great success in these circumstances. Brian Bannatyne-Scott has not done operatic work in Scotland recently, being kept busy on the continent and even further afield and is scheduled to perfom in Meistersinger at Covent Garden in the spring. On this form, with a warm, noble tone on display, he showed the neglect in his homeland to be completely unjustified.

His young partner, Catherine Hooper, is still an undergraduate at St Andrews, and gave a performance of astonishing maturity, tackling the role's difficult, exposed lines with ease.

This success of this adventurous programme must give encouragement for this and other similar groups to spread their nets wider in future.

Performance Cast

Duke Bluebeard

Brian Bannatyne-Scott

Judith Bluebeard's new wife

Catherine Hooper

Production Cast


Gerard Doherty

Performance DatesDuke Bluebeard's Castle 2016

Map List

Greyfriars Kirk | Edinburgh

26 Nov, 19.30

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