Opera Scotland

Judgment of Paris 2018Voices St Andrews Festival

Read more about the opera Judgment of Paris

Impressive wealth of talent

The Byre Theatre was crowded to see a remarkable production of Judgment of Paris, at the opening of the 2018 St Andrews Voices festival.

This historically important masque has music by John Eccles with words by the great Restoration dramatist William Congreve.

The concept

This opera was first staged when Sir Isaac Newton’s ideas about light were in public circulation for the first time, and was an entry in a competition promoted by Newton’s friend and fellow Royal Society scientist, Charles Montague.  In his Optics, Newton speculated that colours (blue, red, green) might be related to note pitches and harmony. 

This modern production included a light and image design by light artist Tim Fitzpatrick (The Red Field), and explored how colour spectrum interactions mirror character interactions in the opera: a synesthetic meditation on human encounters with heavenly bodies and the wonders of space. 

The performance

For this single performance, conducted by Jane Pettegree, the richness of performing talent at the university was there for all to see.

The cast, listed below - and expand the second image on the right for chorus and orchestra members - was wholly drawn from current students who performed creditably. Their young voices were occasionally under strain, but the staging was thoroughly rehearsed with sufficient and appropriate detail -and amusing too!

The orchestra members included - impressively - not just students (undergraduate and postgraduate) but lecturers, the Director of Chapel Choirs and the Observatory Director.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable performance given to a very high standard. Beforehand, the concept had sounded rather dry and academic in the worst sense. However, for this reviewer who admittedly has always had a lay person's interest in the skies, the show made a huge impact.

It seems a pity for all the work and thought invested, that this was only a single performance. Eccles' piece deserves to be more widely performed.  Well done, the university community.

Performance Cast

Mercury messenger of the gods

Alexander Hayes

Paris a shepherd

Katherine Gunya

Juno goddess of marriage

Alice Gold

Pallas goddess of war

Georgia Curwen

Venus goddess of love

Seonaid Eadie

Performance DatesJudgment of Paris 2018

Map List

Byre Theatre | St Andrews

25 Oct, 17.30

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