Way back in time Portugal was at war with Spain and this created a problem for the King of Portugal. His son's mistress was Spanish and considered a threat. If there was a heart thumping moment in the opera it was watching the two young sons playing ball with Inés, their mother - knowing something was going to happen to the three of them. And indeed Pacheco, the king's nasty adviser, forces his master's signature to a dreadful document. Pedro, the King's son, is away commanding the army against the Spanish only to return, unexpectedly victorious, to discover the fate of his mistress and children. The shocking indeed, and for some ghoulish, moment is when her body is brought from the grave, placed on the throne and dressed in the best possible fineries.
The singing was of a high standard with memorable performances by all the main players. The set was timeless and bleak but not bare. The clothing more importantly than being of a particular period told us who was who.
James Macmillan was inspired by Jo Clifford's Inés de Castro at the Traverse Theatre in 1989. The Opera had its premiere in the 1996 Edinburgh International Festival. Those who had been there and remembered it vividly were out in force to my hearing before taking their seats. But this was an updated Inés de Castro both on the stage and from the orchestra pit - with the added bonus that the night's conductor was James Macmillan himself. The plot was easy to follow and the music entirely appropriate. In summary a challenging experience well worth the watching.
Performance: Thursday 29th January 2015 at 7.15pm. A further performance is at 7.15pm on Saturday 31st January 2015 at the Festival Theatre