FAITH, HOPE AND CLARITY
'- I. ,1 i : llectar collectors: Crystal Clear Opera
The Edinburgh Festival Theatre continues to
bring Scolliﬁh audiences a wide range of opera. this month with its presentation of another young company. Crystal Clear ()pera was founded only four years ago and. as the name suggests. they aim to take any notions of mystery out of opera. This is achieved partly through singing in English. partly through the choice of productions. but also. and most importantly. through their quest to perform to a very high standard at affordable prices. Artistic Director and founder Martin McEvoy
explains. ‘I noticed that opera was becoming very. very popular and a lot of small companies were starting up. but I didn't think that the qualities of singing and production were good enough. The new audiences were being given a diet of mediocrity. and that just wasn‘t on. So I remortgaged my house. formed the company — then told my wife.‘ Since then. the company‘s progress has been followed very carefully by the Arts Council of England and they are now on their third year of funding .
They bring two productions. both very traditionally staged. to Edinburgh: Puccini's Mtltltllllt.‘ Butter/Iv and Dan Pasquale by Donizetti. a classic l9th century romantic comedy of confused relationships. The universally-lm'ed Butterfly is nearly sold out. but audiences are more hesitant about the less familiar [)mt Pasquale. McEvoy is. however. infectious in his enthusiasm for the piece. 'lt‘s a new production with Charlotte Page from ENO and Welsh National and a good line-up of soloists. Recently it‘s been described as having more laughs and love per line than any other opera. People are sure to come out smiling.‘ (Carol Main) Crystal Clear Opera are at Edinburgh Festival Theatre with Madame Butterﬂy on Fri 22 and Don Pasquale on Sat 23.
concerts to tie in with the Auld Alliance.’ What’s happening, however, places
the emphasis very much on the new.
j llot new music, because most of the
predominantly French repertoire is far
from contemporary, but artists who
will be new to British audiences. ‘The
Plenty has been heard about the Auld Alliance this year, the 700th ' anniversary of the special relationship 5 between Scotland and France. But, leaving nuclear testing aside for the moment, what about now? In music at least, Scotland and France are forging ' together in a new partnership. Going under the title of The New Alliance, it s takes the form of a series of five i chamber music concerts opening in 5 Edinburgh on Mon 2. 2 The main instigators of the alliance ; are the lnstitut Francais d’Ecosse and 2 BBC Radio 3. According to the l lnstitute’s director, Stephane Crouzat, } it all started with the Quartet Wanderer playing Messiaen’s Quartet For The End Of Time in Edinburgh iust . under a year ago. ‘BBC producer Svend Brown loved the concert,’ he says, ‘and we thought it would be good to take it further. I had the violin/piano duo of Raphael Dleg and Eric Le Sage in mind anyway and we decided to expand this into a series of French
. idea is to promote new generation
artists,’ explains Crouzat, ‘who need new exposure, so by flagging up the
old alliance with the new alliance, we are showing how lively the relationship between Scotland and
France is. These artists are hugely
known in France - the Quartet Ysaye,
for instance, or the trio of Patrick Gallois, Alexandre Theraude, and Michel Lethiec, who open the series with music for flute, piano and clarinet - but it is vital for them to be
. heard by an international audience in
Britain.’ And what about how the alliance may be hearing up otherwise at the
‘ moment? ‘You have to remember,’ says ~ Crouzat, ‘that 60 per cent of French
people are against nuclear testing. Virtually all of the artistic community are against it. It would be absurd to
let it affect artistic events.’ (Carol Main)
The New Alliance opens at the (Town’s Hall, Edinburgh on Mon 2.
mama- Big fun
The Wadaiko Ichiro Drummers first brought their spectacular mix of thrilling percussion and ritualised gestures to the 1994 Edinburgh Festival, but now visit Glasgow as their only Scottish date on an extensive UK tour.
The group are led by Ichiro lnoue, who has been involved in the dramatic art of Japanese drumming (or Taiko) for the best part of two decades. He was a member of the traditional troupe Dndekoza (which also spawned the better-known Kodo drummers), but chose to strike out on his own in order to introduce a less rigidly traditional style of playing, and to feature his own compositions.
‘Traditional Japanese drum music is all very slow and very serious, and I wanted to play in a much faster way and to have fun on stage, and also to bring in rhythms from Africa and South America and so on - and, of course, I wanted to write my own music. The idea is to bring all of that together, but always keeping our Japanese identity.’
lchiro’s company contains two
Wadaiko Ichiro Drummers: giving it stick
women members, including his wife, Miyuki, among the twelve-strong team of drummers, and they perform on everything from tiny chiming bells through to the massive 450k o-daiko drum. Their physical fitness is generated by the kind of training programme we might expect from top- level athletes, but they are capable of great rhythmic delicacy as well a thunderous wall of sound that would put Phil Spector to shame.
‘Wadaiko Ichiro Drummers are much more spontaneous and sparkling than a group like Kodo, who are very strict and disciplined in their music, and in their style of living. They have a very straight way of performing it, while we are much more playful. In 0ndekoza, it was all very serious - nobody was ever allowed to smile, even when having dinner! But we know music is fun, and hitting the drums makes us feel full of pleasure and energy, and we want people to come and share in those feelings.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
Wadailto Ichiro Drummers play at the Glasgow Royal Concert Ila/I on Mon 2.
Breaking the rules
Kenny Mathieson hears how Mary Coughlan was a late developer.
The last time Irish singer Mary Coughlan played in Scotland. she found herself in the embarrassing position of being double-booked for prestigious gigs in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. A compromise was reached. and she began the night by opening the Woman‘s Heart concert at the Festival Theatre (she had featured on the A Woman '3 Heart 2 compilation album). then scuttled across to the west by train to play at Celtic Connections in the Concert Hall.
There should be no such complications this time when she heads north with her band. for a concert as part ofthe Motherwell Music Festival. Coughlan is now a well-established part of the Irish music scene. but her entry into the business was an unusual one.
given that it was delayed until she was
34 The List 22 Sept-5 Oct 1995