EIF 2017 Opera Preview
Festival Director Fergus Linehan has given us nine operas this year, more than usual. He has told us of the central role opera took in the early days of the Festival. He goes on to describe the wide mix of artistic talent that goes into the making of an opera.
There are four full operas staged at the Festival Theatre and five concert versions at the Usher Hall. Far from boring, concert versions can every bit as enjoyable, especially when some are semi-staged.
I have no doubt that Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s meticulous preparation and interpretation of the three surviving operas by Monteverdi are in the must-see category. Celebrating the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi’s birth, the Monteverdi Choir with English Baroque Soloists give semi staged concert performances of L’Orfeo, Il retorno d’Ulisse in patria and L’incoronazione di Poppea at the Usher Hall on 14th, 15th and 17th August.
Edward Gardner conducts the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus for a three and a half hour concert performance of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes at the Usher Hall on 13th August. Highly acclaimed Australian tenor Stuart Skelton is Peter Grimes.
The Festival’s Ring cycle is in year two with a concert performance of almost five hours at the Usher Hall on 6th August of Wagner’s Die Walküre. Sir Andrew Davies conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Sung in German with English supertitles, Sir Bryn Terfel is Wotan and Christine Goerke is Brünnhilde.
Following his acclaimed reimagining of The Marriage of Figaro at last year’s Festival, Iván Fisher conducts and directs his vision of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Budapest Festival Orchestra at the Festival Theatre on 9th, 11th and 12th August. English Baritone Christopher Maltman is Don Giovanni.
There’s a new staging of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek. Originally co-commissioned by the Festival and first performed at the Leith Theatre in 1988, it’s based on the in-your-face stage play by Steven Berkoff which gives the ancient myth of Oedipus a contemporary resonance. Performances are on 5th and 6th August at the Festival Theatre with Scottish Opera’s Director of Music Stuart Stratford conducting. Acclaimed young British baritone Alex Otterburn joins Susan Bullock, Allison Cook and Andrew Shore. Lasting about two hours, there’s a strong language warning.
Verdi’s Macbeth was the very first opera performed at the 1947 Festival. This year Turin’s Teatro Regio Tornio and Music Director Gianandrea Noseda are resident for two weeks, with Verdi’s Macbeth at the Festival Theatre on 18th and 19th August and for Puccini’s La Bohème at the Festival Theatre on 25th and 27th August. The performances are in Italian with English supertitles.
Nobody should complain at this year's offering, it's a seventieth birthday treat.