i Material Values

Scottish Opera’s ambitious new production is based on the play The Little Faxes. Although written by Blitzstein in 1949, the opera has never before been seen in its original version as director, John Carsen, explains to Carol Main.

When Scottish Opera appointed the American

John Mauceri as Music Director in 1988. not only

did they gain a first class conductor. but they also

landed themselves with a direct line to some

j stunning but generally neglected American

, repertoire. So far his track record has included

j Kurt Weill‘s Street Scene. Bernstein‘s Candide and

[ Gershwin‘s Girl Crazy. works that otherwise

I might never have found their way into Scottish

j Opera’s schedules. These productions have been

1 especially enriched by the knowledge and passion with which Mauceri has re—created scores as the

j composers intended.

l Latest in the line is Regina by Marc Blitzstein,

born in Philadelphia just after the turn ofthe

century and a contemporary of Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson. The opera is based on Lillian


John Mauceri in rehearsal for Scottish Opera‘s Regina

was filmed in 1941 with Bette Davis in the leading role. Over the past ten years Mauceri, working in collaboration with Tommy Trasker. one of his students, and the late Leonard Bernstein, has painstakingly restored the opera to the version the composer originally intended. Making his Scottish Opera debut as director is the young Canadian Robert Carsen, well known in Europe and the States, but, in spite of training initially as an actor at the Old Vic, not yet familiar to British Opera audiences.

‘Blitzstein,’ says Carsen, ‘was passionately

concerned that music should have some kind of political import and he looked for subjects that dealt with the political or social issues of the day.’ Also concerned that music should communicate with as wide an audience as possible, he was attracted to Lillian Hellman’s story of a rich, white family living in Alabama in the time just before his own birth. ‘Lillian Hellman was a friend of Blitzstein’s,‘ explains Carsen, ‘and they moved in the same political, social, artistic circles in New York. The play is based on the motivating force of greed and the results, the destructive power, that such greed brings. Regina’s philosophy is that things are more important than people. It’s absolutely fascinating how it deals with the wider social issues too, most obviously the racial one of black and white.‘

Through the music, Blitzstein has expanded the role of the black people from servants to cotton pickers playing in a New Orleans style jazz band. ‘He was a passionate devotee of American music,’ says Carsen, ‘and brings in lots of different styles blues, jazz, ragtime with the blacks singing and playing. The jazz band, for instance, contrasts with the more ‘civilised’ music of the whites, who have a string trio on stage for the party scene.’ Scottish Opera promises the black band on stage too and as well as jazz, there is everything from Broadway numbers to ballads, arias and full operatic ensembles, recitative and spoken dialogue. ‘But’, Carsen goes on to explain, ‘Lillian Hellman didn’t like it and when the opera was first done she insisted that a number ofchanges and cuts were made. So this is not only the European premiere, but the first time the opera will be seen as Blitzstein wrote it.’ (Carol Main)

Regina, Theatre Royal, Glasgow. 16, 18,21, 23 May at 7.15pm. See Classical listings.

Hellman‘s well known play The Little Faxes which Scobie‘strademark

s ! polka-dottutu.

I AOR ROCKERS Goodbye : Mr Mackenzie were shaken marshmallow earrings and pinklur anoraktorthe

g and stirred in mid-April when. quite literally onthe

eve at a Europeantour, international shows. keyboardist Rona Scobie I EDINBURGH‘S AMBIENT l suddenly quit the band. HOUSE (or whateverthey‘re Rona's decision to leave is calling it this week) thought to be based on groovers. The Botany 5.

personal. ratherthan musical grounds, butthe Macks are pressing on with the tour regardless. enlisting the services oi their long-serving producer Terry Adams on ivory-tinkling until a

permanentreplacementcan be lound. Though happy with the set-list, Adams is

have apparently been making overtures to ex-Simple Minds Svengali. Bruce Findlay. in their

search tor new management. Findlay. as belits a man at his (ex-)stature, is said to have been none too keen on taking the usual 20 percent managerial cut, preterring

said to be less impressed at

instead a hetty lump the prospect ol donning

sum up tronttrom

luture career as an Armani clothes-horse.

I SO HEADY IS the bun surrounding The Orange Grove (winners. as it you needed to be reminded, oi the latest ‘List’lMcEwans Lager demo tape competition) that the band are not letting copies at their new tape out oltheir grasp, and consequently A&R tolk are flying uptrom London purely torthe opportunity to listen to it betore it's whipped out at the tape deck and locked away again. The situation is growing weirder bythe minute, as the band have now swelled their ranks with a former Marilyn Monroe impersonator on vocals.

I BE THE 4500 entrants to the Our Price ‘Hit The Write Hote‘ battle at the hands, no less than a whoppinglour Scottish acts have made it

Virgin as the proverbial

carrot to tempt him away

trom his ‘Sunday Joint‘

Radio Forth show and back into the management game. Virgin, reports ; suggest. are considering ! the position. I MEAHWHILE IN

GLASGOW, those mad Blue Nile boys are up to all kinds

ol stull. Not content with recording demos with Annie Lennox on lead vocals, the oddball trio were recently seen (much to the surprise

at their record company) modelling menswear in a trendy Continental

magazine. As a result. chisel-jowled

head-yodeller Paul

Buchanan has been altered

a posh modelling contract

by some Italian tashion broadsheet. Alarmed at the prospect, Paul hastaken himselt oil to the States to considerthe merits ola


through to the iirst beats, in RESERVATIONS, we hope. which 32 bands will slug it in the Yo Yo Honey camp. out over several nights at The band have signed a London’s Marquee. Should deal, with the truits coming Seeing Red and Stumble out on Jive Records in the (both trom Edinburgh). near luture.

Spirit Moves I RUHRIG’S LATEST (Cumbemauld) or The ESCAPADE should add a Rainmakers (Motherwell) certain plquancy to the

renditions oi ‘Loch Lomond' that traditionally end their shows. For they have

pass the winning post, they’ll become the proud holders not only ol£1000

and a gold-plated Shure indeed set up a special microphone but a recording midsummer show on the deal with Polydor and a banks at that very pond ‘at

Balloch Country Park, to be precise. on 22 June. Tickets are still available, llmlted

publishing deal with Polygram Music. Well, at least Polydor don‘t have as

bad a record as some tor to six per application. by dumping Scottish bands post trom PO Box 77. Head (although Summerhlll GPO, Edinburgh, cheques

tor£16.70 to be made payable to Regular Music. or by credit card on 031-557

might not agree). The promise ot a deal with certain other London labels

would no doubt have 6969. in which case tickets inspired great gutlawing are £17.50.

lrom hopeluls north olthe



'Ihe List3— 16 May 199147