Opera Scotland

Creation 2018Edinburgh International Festival

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The operatic offering at the 2018 Edinburgh International Festival consisted of three fully staged productions imported from leading French companies. There were also two concert performances.

In recent years we have heard several of Rossini's less frequently performed operas. Now we could see, together for the first time here, his two most popular comic masterpieces. The Barber of Seville was presented by Le Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, on their first visit from Paris and Cenerentola by the familiar and welcome Opéra de Lyon.

In addition, John Gay's Beggar's Opera was performed by the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, from Paris, who had a substantial residency at the Festival. William Christie led the musical side of this multinational coproduction.

The third instalment of Wagner's Ring, Siegfried  was performed in the Usher Hall. Sir Mark Elder conducted the Hallé; the all-star cast included Simon O'Neill (Siegfried), Christine Goerke (Brünnhilde) and Iain Paterson (Wanderer).

Continuing the creepy woodland theme, there was also a concert performance of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, given by the RSNO under Sir Andrew Davis. Elizabeth DeShong (Hansel) and Laura Wilde (Gretel) led the cast.

Two important oratorios were also given in the Usher Hall. The Dunedin Consort performed Handel's mighty Samson and the Festival's opening concert was Haydn's Creation.

Haydn's choral masterpiece may not at first seem quite the all guns blazing piece we are used to on opening night of the Edinburgh Festival. We usually hear the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in full cry, accompanied by one of the Scottish symphonic orchestras or an important visitor. Never mind. For anyone who wants that they only need to wait until this year's closing concert, when Mahler's overwhelming Eighth Symphony will be performed.

This opener showed conclusively that those big guns were by no means essential. This concert gave a blissfully joyous account of a score which has always been an astonishingly youthful work springing as it did from the mind of its elderly composer. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has long been an outstanding exponent of music of this genre, with its awareness of lively period style and gloriously characterful solo playing.  Over the years we have heard them on sprightly form, conducted by the late Sir Charles Mackerras as well as Robin Ticciati. Edward Gardner showed himself to be a natural successor if the management can keep him coming regularly. The three soloists were every bit as good.

The orchestra were in company with the excellent National Youth Choir of Scotland - 120 voices, all meticulously honed and keen in the attack. The Chorus Master was Christopher Bell, who has trained this choir since it was founded and must have known every one of those voices since they were children. After many years at the centre of musical life in Scotland, this Irish dynamo is heading off to pastures new in the USA. He will be a hard act to follow.

Performance Cast

Gabriel an archangel

Sarah Tynan

Uriel an archangel

Robert Murray

Raphael an archangel

Neal Davies


Sarah Tynan


Neal Davies

Performance DatesCreation 2018

Map List

Usher Hall | Edinburgh

4 Aug, 19.30

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