Opera Scotland

Salome 2018Edinburgh Players Opera Group

Read more about the opera Salome

For their eighteenth annual rehearsed run-through, Edinburgh Players' Opera Group this year selected their fourth  Richard Strauss work. Salome was a logical follow-up to last year's memorable Elektra. There are always those who avoid 'amateur' performances, but the players  in this enterprise reach a particularly high standard in the level of professional training. Also, they are performing for the love of it!

As before, the players rehearsed the opera on the Friday and Saturday and then on Sunday performed the work complete. The singers were a mix of experienced and young professionals as well as students, with some experienced local amateurs taking part too - a total of over ninety artists.

While the enterprise is never presented as more than a rehearsal, members of the public are made welcome, for the logical reason that having even a small audience concentrates the minds of the participants.  A voluntary donation of £15 was requested to help cover costs (the participants paying more!).

As with all the previous events we have attended, this proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, revealing much detail in the orchestration that can be missed when the big band is concealed in a pit. The conductor iws, as usual, Mike Thorne, who marshalled his forces with the simplest of gestures, but paced the whole show in exemplary style. Even so, there were inevitable occasions when the balance went slightly awry, with the overwhelming brass sound dominating the strings. Given that the string body is smaller than might be heard with a professional company (though still listed as twenty-eight players) this was hardly surprising, and caused only brief discomfort.

Most of the singers had taken part in previous years. The baritone Julian Tovey has now appeared many times at these events, and volunteered to sing in spite of a heavy cold. This was hardly noticeable, and his lyrical highlight, singing of Galilee, was beautifully phrased. The Salome was giving her first performance in Scotland as well as her first attempt at the role. Mariya Krywaniuk is a young Canadian, New York-trained and now resident in London. She has a beautiful lyric soprano with a sweet, pure tone that rode the orchestral tumult without forcing. Clearly a name to watch.

Herod and Herodias were played by regular contributors in Jonathan Finney and Zoe South, both projecting character as well as voice - there seems to be a pleasant fashion developing for Herod to be sung in a lyrical style rather than barked. This is much to be encouraged.

Many of the short roles were taken by singers gaining prominence with Scottish companies. Several doubled parts not usually done in the theatre. The most notable of these was tenor Michael Doroszenko, as a sweet-toned Narraboth and tetchy First Jew. Lea Shaw made a firm impression as the page in the opening scene and slave later on. Arthur Bruce on his third appearance with EPOG stod out as Second Soldier and Fifth Jew, and veteran Colin Heggie was also good value in his dual appearances. The remaining young contributors, Connor Smith, Matthew McKinney, Andrew Powis and Will Frost, all did well - sensibly never forcing when their efforts would inevitably be overwhelmed by the torrent of orchestral sound. 

Yet another highly enjoyable event from EPOG, with rumours of another Ring. Rheingold is proposed for next year (on Sunday, 29 September).

Performance DatesSalome 2018

Map List

Town Hall, Portobello | Edinburgh

30 Sep, 14.00

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