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The Barber of Seville
With top productions, performers and composers from across the world descending on Edinburgh, it can be tricky to know where to start with the International Festival’s classical and opera programme. Carol Main lends a helping hand by picking this year’s ﬁ ve must-see shows
THE BARBER OF SEVILLE Among all of Rossini’s comic operas, The Barber of Seville is the jewel in the crown. With its array of larger than life characters getting into all sorts of farcical scrapes, the music and libretto are full of exuberant energy, with Figaro, the multi-tasking entrepreneurial barber, at the centre of all its wit and colour. Taken from the i rst of French playwright Beaumarchais’s trilogy centred around Figaro (Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro is the same character, but from the second play), The Barber of Seville is seen in a new production straight from the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Setting it apart from other stagings is conductor Jérémie Rhorer, who brings his own period- instrument orchestra to the pit. ■ Festival Theatre, 5, 7 & 8 Aug, 7.15pm, £28–£96.
there’s anyone still SIEGFRIED If to be convinced of the merits of concert performances of operas that were originally intended to be fully staged, then Sir Mark Elder’s Siegfried will be the sure-i re event
to make minds change. Following last year’s sensational Die Walküre, the International Festival continues its presentation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle with the Hallé Orchestra and an impressive lineup of soloists returning to Edinburgh as part of this four-year project. Described as the Wagnerian tenor of his generation, New Zealander Simon O’Neill is the hero who knows no fear, who puts together pieces of his father’s sword to slay a dragon, who gains the cursed ring of the cycle’s title and who brings the opera to a close by waking – and falling for – the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, giving her the ring to prove his love. It’s heady stuff. For i ve and a half hours. ■ Usher Hall, 8 Aug, 4.30pm, £20–£60.
TAKÁCS QUARTET AND MARC- ANDRÉ HAMELIN Two chances to hear this extremely distinguished Hungarian string quartet, who are reputedly so reliant on each other that they’ve taken out insurance on each of their lives. Across two complementary Queen’s Hall mornings, they perform one piece life
each day by Mozart, Dvořák and Dohnányi. From the latter are Piano Quintets No 1 and 2, for which the quartet are joined by Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin, who appeared with the SCO at last year’s festival. Lots of Hungarian gutsy folk tunes, lush melodies and dancing rhythms abound in the Dvořák and Dohnányi repertoire, while the Mozart string quartets introduce each programme with typical grace, wit and lyricism. ■ Queen’s Hall, 10 & 11 Aug, 11am, £11–£34. ROBIN TICCIATI CONDUCTS BRAHMS CYCLE Unbelievable though it may seem to Scottish audiences, conductor Robin Ticciati, who was appointed principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the age of only 26, conducts his i nal concerts with the SCO in two concerts at the Usher Hall. Since his i rst appearance in Edinburgh with the orchestra in 2009, Ticciati has been a much-cherished i gure who will be greatly missed, but will surely return. For his swansong, he goes
all out on Brahms, programming Symphony No 1 and 3 one night, and Symphony No 2 and 4 the next. ■ Usher Hall, 18 & 19 Aug, 7.45pm, £15–£47. A BERNSTEIN CELEBRATION On the date that marks exactly 100 years since the birth of the legendary composer, conductor, pianist, writer and lecturer who is American music personii ed, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra – making its Edinburgh Festival debut – celebrates Leonard Bernstein with music director Marin Alsop. A conducting student of the great man himself, Alsop is renowned for her highly charged performances. West Side Story Symphonic Dances sit alongside three dances from Broadway musical On the Town and the more rel ective Serenade for orchestra and violin. Putting Nicola Benedetti into the mix as soloist means that tickets will be like proverbial gold dust. In the morning, Hebrides Ensemble are at the Queen’s Hall with Bernstein for smaller forces. ■ Usher Hall, 25 Aug, 7.45pm, £15–£47.
1–8 Aug 2018 THE LIST FESTIVAL 97