6 ~ ' . American director Stephen Wadsworth‘s stated aim is to focus on people and their relationships. and his first production for Scottish Opera. Beethoven‘s hide/1'0 certainly doesn't conflict with this bias. A beleaguered French chateau sets the atmosphere. and thereafter acts purely as a classic backdrop to the plot. Eyes and ears are free to contemplate the action on and below the stage. . .and the weighty issues hide/1'0 confronts. such as liberty. justice. morality and loyalty.

After a painfully slow overture. during which Gudrun Volkert (Fidelio) disguises herself as a man with such apparent nonchalance that the audience ends up biting its nails on her behalf. the action is immediately lightened by the arrival of young Nerys Jones as Marzelline and Mark Tucker as Jaquino. whose cavorting proves that even under tyranny it’s possible to have a sense ofhumour. The German dialogue throughout is thrilling to hear. especially when delivered by native speakers Ms Volkert and Adalbert Waller (Rocco). It‘s so clear you almost don‘t need the English surtitles. And Greer Grimsley's Don Pizarro— ' lookinglikeathoroughly humourless Rowan Atkinson. and commanding just as much stage presence is beautifully sung.

ln Act ll.setting Florestan‘s prison in the Chateau's library creates an appropriate ambience of isolation. silence and oppression. and the sight and sound of this innocent man in chains really can touch the heart. The Scottish Opera Orchestra. under Roderick Brydon. produces some really fluid. languid playing here. which gains momentum as the drama intensifies. And the final jubilant crowd scene shows the Scottish Opera Chorus at its best.

It's not a production to set you on fire; but it's lucid. and will set you thinking. (Cate Devinc) Fidelio can still be seen on 9, l4 and20 Feb at the Theatre Royal. Glasgow and 20 and 23 March at the Playhouse. Edinburgh.

Heavenly pursuits

’You’re going to go on about Janis Joplin, aren’tyou?’

Gwen Stewart, acclaimed vocalist with Glasgow’s Wild River Apples, is demonstrating that her ability to anticipate interview questions is as debatable as her ability to belt out pop songs with old-style vigour is convincing. In lactJanis Joplin comparisons, invalid but inexplicably common, are the furthest thing from my mind. What seems to be a more pressing consideration is why it has taken the hand all at twenty months between their initial signing to Chrysalis and the appearance at their lirst vinyl lruits (pun well and truly intended).

‘First olall,’ she says, ‘it was producers. We couldn’t get a producer to do what we wanted to do, so that took up six or seven months ot our time. Then we took about four months to record so we were working constantly all year. It wasn’t a matter at going away and not doing anything.‘

The wait has been irritating, so Gwen is understandably enthusiastic about the release at the Mark (Del Amitri) Freegard-produced single, I Can’t Wait For Heaven, the promotional tour and the eventual unleashing oi the debut album in late April. Despite the frustration, she is convinced that the

delay has been prudent and that current .

trends will be kind to the group.

‘Last year, with all this dance stuff, it was quite hard to break through when the time wasn’t right tor it, but I think live acts are working up now. Last year I can’t remember a good live act that

was doing anything.’

It was the Wild River Apples’ live reputation that linally secured them their deal, so suggest at your peril that it was Gwen’s vocals that actually tipped the balance. She is adamant that her singing is just one contributory factor: ‘No record company would sign a whole band loriust a nice voice. It the songs aren’t happening, then I can’t do anything with them. liust latch on to a good melody in the songs and make it iump out.’

Expect Wild RiverApptes to blossom at a venue near you soon. And expect a plethora of cringeworthy puns as well. (Fiona Shepherd)

The Wild RiverApples release I Can't Wait For Heaven on Chrysalis on Mon 11.

.11 “q j

Wild RiverApples

.Jz' Knightstick are Mr Smith, A-1 and Mac-1, two DJs and a rapper lrom Edinburgh. Together since August, they’ve been recording tracks at Sugar Bullet's home studio and share that group's philosophy of drawing lrom a pool of like-minded souls. Consequently, they’re planning tracks with Zeb (seen recently on ’NB’) and the one known only as ‘D’ from The

Finest Ingredient. A white label release

is planned torthe near luture, with the only inlormation on it being an 0898


. 7:3» if

...“!!:u: “3 . . .- numberto allay any regionalist prejudice DJs might have. Already booked to play at The Boom Boom Club on Saturday 9 and to support The Dream Warriors, they will possibly be appearing at Slam's big do at lngliston as well. Don’t be too surprised it they pop up at the monthly Big Payback club in Calton Studios either. And they're in no doubt as to who gave them their breaks: ‘We’d like to thank Sugar Bullet and . . . er, Sugar Bullet.’

[MUSIW 32 3on 333 mom as or smart :lO HLHDM ooze A'lllV3N

The Apples.

Callum McNair played guitar in the fabulous. but ill-starred Edinburgh outfit. Syndicate. who split in early 1989. leaving behind them a debt of “50.000 at EMI records (‘We got on good terms with them. so they eventually let us off with £50,000) Discovering that he could sing and write. as well as strum. Callum put together The Apples last spring. enlisting ‘a group ofpals‘ who had. between them. seen service with Win and Hey! Elastica. Having exhausted a further £2().l)()() of kindly EMI‘s dosh on demo time. the foursome promptly signed to Epic records. and are about to release their debut ~15 for the label. ’Eye Wonder'.

The single is a pulsating, atmospheric piece. seating breathy vocals atop a mellow. textured backbeat. McNair describes it as ‘soulfully psychedelic‘. "There's a lot ol‘guitar on it. It‘s like the Velvet Underground meets. erm. let‘s say the Monkees or the Rolling Stones.’ The Monkees or the Stones— they‘re just so easily confused. aren‘t they? ‘l la lla. but people will know what I mean when they hear the record. Anyway. it‘s all offset by a really heavy dance groove. It‘s quite moody in places. but also very "up" in a Happy Mondays way.‘

‘Eye Wonder' is officially released at the end of February. but has picked up a positive response already through pre-release plays in clubland. The Apples. meanwhile. are putting the finishing touches to their debut album in London. and will be touring the nation in the early spring. For a man nearly halfa million in the red. (‘allum seems unllustered by it all.

‘lt‘s coming along nicely. We see ourselves as an albums band. a long term thing. primarily. Having said that. we do have tracks that are potential singles among the various styles we‘ve tried out so far. No problems.‘ (Paul W. llullah)

Their sing/e. Eye Wonder. is out an Epic Records.

~The List 8— 21 February 199135