Opera Scotland

Puccini Collection 2021Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Puccini Collection

A Celebration of the Work of Puccini.

This was a one-off concert to take advantage of the audience capacity, wide stage and generous acoustic of Dundee's Caird Hall. Scottish Opera's return to this superb venue, after 25 years, was long overdue.  The success of this event was quite enough to make it seem inevitable that similar programmes could be toured more widely in future seasons.  With the fifth (Omicron) variant of the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the country, the expectation must have been that cancellation was likely, or that the audience would have been deterred from turniing out.  In the event, all was well, and a decent crowd of some 550 people arrived, remaining full of enthusiasm to the end.

The programme featured excerpts from well-known and well-loved works including Tosca ‘(‘Vissi d’arte’), Turandot (‘Nessun Dorma’) and La bohème ('Donde lieta uscì' - Mimì''s farewell) as well as rarer gems from La Fanciulla del WestManon Lescaut, and Edgar.  There was certainly plenty for newcomers and aficionados alike, and there was a hugely enthusiastic reception for what was a thoroughly enjoyable performance, very well planned, and performed to an exceptionally high level.

Scottish Opera Music Director, Stuart Stratford said beforehand: ‘There is a reason why Puccini is one of the greatest opera composers - sumptuous harmony supporting memorable melodic lines, all steeped in the character and situation of the most moving stories. The Puccini Collection contains some of the most breathtaking spans of operatic writing in the repertoire - not to be missed.'  The only operas omitted were Madama Butterfly and the Trittico.

A perticularly valuable aspect of the programming was that there were not just arias, but entire scenes, so 'Vissi d'arte' was placed firmly in its context of a substantial chunk of the second act of Tosca, through to Scarpia's death, complete with Spoletta's lines.  The same process was followed for Minnie's duel (at poker) with Rance, in The Girl of the Golden West.  Also the great quartet that constitutes most of the third act of La bohème was presented in its entirety, forming a wonderful climax to the concert.  The Mimi and Rodolfo will soon be singing their roles with ENO in London.

Soloists Sinéad Campbell-Wallace (Tosca 2019), David Junghoon Kim (making his Company debut), Roland Wood (Falstaff 2021) and Scottish Opera Emerging Artist 2021/22 Catriona Hewitson (Così fan tutte 2021) were accompanied on stage by the Orchestra of Scottish Opera.

The complete, and generous, programme was:-

Manon Lescaut:

Aria Act 1  'Donna non vidi mai'  (DJK).

Scene Act 2  'Dunque questa lettiga?'  (SC-W, DJK).

Intermezzo Act 4.

Aria Act 4: 'Sola, perduta abbandonata' (SC-W).

Tosca:-

Aria Act 3: 'E lecevan le stelle' (DJK).

Scene Act 2:'Salvatelo!'   'Io?'....'Voi?'  (SC-W, RW, FS)

Interval

La fanciulla del West:-

Scene Act 2: 'Che c'è di nuovo, Jack?'  (SC-W, RW).

La rondine:-

Aria Act 1: 'Chi il bel sogno di Doretto'  (CH).

Edgar:

Aria Act 1:  'Questo amor, vergogna mia' (RW).

Le villi:-

Ballet: La Tregenda.

La bohème:

Scene Act 3: 'Mimì?'  'Speravo di trovarvi qui'  (SC-W, CH, DJK, RW).

Turandot:-

Aria Act 3:  'Nessun dorma' (DJK).

The two orchestral excerpts were very early Puccini, finding the orchestra on top form.  The introduction to the last act of Manon Lescaut is a superb piece of orchestration.  The ballet from Puccini's first opera, Le villi, is stormily dramatic, and most enjoyable.  The plot is essentially that of Giselle, one of the great works of the classical ballet repertoire.  That itself may be one reason for the opera's failure, but it is clearly an early piece, with many structural faults.  Edgar, his second opera, is also something Puccini improved on very quickly, with his third piece, Manon Lescaut.

The Korean tenor David Junghoon Kim is now dividing his time between the Royal Opera and ENO.  Here he opened and closed the concert, with solos from Manon Lescaut and, inevitably, Turandot,  His contributions to Tosca and La bohème were also both eloquent.

Sinéad Campbell-Wallace has sung the complete role of Tosca with Scottish Opera, in partnership with Roland Wood, and their performance of that work was excellent.  Her solos from Manon, Mimì and Minnie were just as effective.  The young soprano Catriona Hewitson made an immediate impact with 'Doretta's Dream'  from La rondine - last sung in the Caird Hall by Dame Kiri!  She also made an excellent contribution to the Bohème quartet.

 

Scottish Opera's Previous Dundee Concerts

Scottish Opera has never given a performance of a complete opera in concert in the Caird Hall, which would seem surprising, but for the fact that such concerts have only been given regularly even in Glasgow and Edinburgh during the past twenty years.

The company has made three appearances in the Caird Hall since its foundation in 1962.  The first of these, in 1985, was a memorable gala in which Sir Alexander Gibson conducted the orchestra and chorus with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as guest.

A few years later, in 1992, the company's young conductor Robert Dean led an evening of scenes and arias with Dennis O'Neill and Jane Eaglen, in which she gave a hint that she would soon sing Norma with the company.

The last such evening, in 1996, was a programme of scenes called The Scottish Opera Collection.  Sir Richard Armstrong conducted a team of singers including Susan McCulloch, Lisa Milne,  Elizabeth McCormack, Peter Bronder and Stephen Gadd.  They performed extended extracts from works such as ToscaDer Rosenkavalier and The Merry Widow.

 

Scottish Opera's Orchestra in Dundee

The Orchestra of Scottish Opera has performed there regularly for many years with Dundee Choral Union.  These engagements even preceded the appointment of the Union's current musical director, Derek Clark, Scottish Opera's Head of Music.

With this choir the orchestra has been able to perform many of the most important choral masterpieces by Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Verdi, Brahms, Elgar, Parry, Fauré, Vaughan Williams and others.  On Sunday 21 November 2021 the Orchestra joined Dundee Choral Union and the St Andrews Chorus in a performance of the Verdi Requiem.  The familiar soloists were Catriona Clark,  Katie Grossett,  Elgan Llýr Thomas and Jonathan May.

 

Staged Opera at the Caird Hall

Since the beginning of the century the hall has been the location for a number of fully-staged performances during the many Scottish tours by the Ellen Kent organisation, using artists from Moldova and the Ukraine.  Works performed have included (most of them several times) - Verdi (Nabucco, Rigoletto, La traviata,  Aïda);  Bizet (Carmen);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana) and  Puccini (La bohème,  Tosca,  Madama ButterflyTurandot).

Performance DatesPuccini Collection 2021

Map List

Caird Hall | Dundee

12 Dec, 19.30

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