Opera Scotland

Paradis Files 2022Graeae Theatre Company

Read more about the opera Paradis Files

Errollyn Wallen's reworking of Purcell as Dido's Ghost was a success at last year's Edinburgh Festival, so it was good to see her continuing with a new operatic work.  This was an altogether fascinating event, received with complete concentration by the audience in the wonderfully intimate Perth Theatre, its auditorium beautifully restored and ideally proportioned.

The Paradis Files opened at the Curve, Leicester, on Friday, 8 April, with a second performance the following evening.  There were a total of fourteen performances in all, visiting London's Queen Elizabeth Hall before touring to Milton Keynes, Colchester, Hull, Perth, Cardiff and Sheffield, ending on 12 May.

The opera was fascinating in several ways.  The subject concerns the daughter of aristocratic parents, quickly recognised as a musical talent which is encouraged, with Salieri in attendance as teacher, (not always, it seems, in appropriate circumstances).  The mother, particularly, is devastated at the realisation that young Maria Theresia is going blind.  Undeterred, the father sends them off on a European tour where she becomes something of a celebrity in pre-revolutionary Paris and London.  She eventually returns home, becoming a teacher of some reputation.

The music is immediately attractive and approachable, with a quintet of players - violin, double bass, accordion, piano and percussion at the back of the stage.  The sets are simple, dominated by a beautifully decorative (entirely symbolic) harpsichord and a large video screen on which a moving arrangement of surtitles appears.  The complete text visible in large lettering was a useful help for the audience meeting this plot for the first time.

The piece lasts an hour, without interval, and was preceded by a ten-minute progue in which the various performers introduced themselves and their characters - a witty and enjoyable procedure.

Of the performers, the lead role was well taken by Bethan Langford - tall and elegant, beautifully voiced.  Omar Ebrahim spent much of his career in the realms of the avant-garde, but in Scotland is remembered for his early efforts in Weill, Sullivan and Strauss (Johann) as well as a riveting interpretation of Macbeth.  Here he was an understandably more mature figure, the only issue being the occasional difficulty of distinguishing his three roles.  This was also noticeable with the other multi-cast performers. Maureen Brathwaite also worked with Scottish Opera in the past, and was welcome back in her solo turn as the Baroness.

A fascinating feature, central to the work of the Graeae company, was the fully integrated work of the two British Sign Language interpreters, Max Marchewicz and Chandrika Gopalakrishnan.

The audience greeted the first night with justified enthusiasm.

Performance DatesParadis Files 2022

Map List

Perth Theatre | Perth

28 Apr, 19.30 29 Apr, 19.30

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