LIVE REVIEWS MUSIC
HANSEI. AND GRETEl/lA TRAVIATA
Seen at Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Scottish Opera come to Edinburgh this month with two productions and both are unmissable. Beautifully contrasted, musically as well as dramatically, Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel And Gretel appears in a new and unconventional production, while la Traviata by Verdi is a gorgeous reworking of lluria Espert’s acclaimed production first seen in 1989. What they do have in common, however, is the high quality of staging which audiences have come to expect from Scotland’s national opera company. Hansel And Gretel is known to all of us as a childhood fairy story about two small children getting lost in a wood and succumbing to the delights of the wicked witch’s gingerbread cottage. But in this version, although the story remains in place, director Mark Tinkler transforms the cottage into a giant Easter egg. Rebirth and regeneration are the inspiration behind Tinkler’s interpretation of the piece, with Hansel and Gretel portrayed as teenagers in the transitional period between puberty and adulthood, as adolescents on a voyage of discovery of sexuality. Dressed in autumnal colours, the set and overall design lend real warmth to Humperdinck’s luxuriant score, which apart from the charming and familiar nursery tunes has some gloriously Wagnerian orchestral sounds. Scottish Opera’s casting has been strong recently and this production is no exception. Claire Bradshaw and Catriona Smith make a perfectly balanced brother and sister, their
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Claire Rutter in La Traviata:
voices and stage presence totally complementary.
La Traviata is cleverly cast too, but its ending could hardly be further removed from Hansel And Gretel’s cheery chorus celebrating the death of the witch. Violetta’s - Claire Butter - death just before the curtain drops is tragic and marvellously moving. Paul Charles Clarke as Alfredo is a credible lover and special mention must go to Stephen Gadd, who stepped in valiantly to replace an indisposed Rene Massis as Alfredo’s father just an hour before the show. Most remarkable is the pacing of the piece, Espert’s skilled and sure hand still a vital force under Peter Watson’s current direction. Traditionally staged with extravagant costumes and sets, this is grand opera at its best. (Carol Main)
Scottish Opera are at Edinburgh Festival Theatre with llansel And Gretel on 29 Feb and 1 Mar, and La Traviata on 28 Feb and 2 Mar. La Traviata returns for three further performances in June and is at Theatre Royal, Glasgow on 22 and 25 May. See Classical listings.
la Belle Ange/e, Edinburgh, 17 Feb. lordy, the robot-dancer is back. Moloko’s singer Roisrn, poured into a red and black dress that’s as close- fitting as you’d expect from a band who named their album Do You Like My Tight Sweater, is executing those jerky motions we thought had long ago been stamped out by the guardians of good taste.
Having shaken off the shackles of the studio-conceived album, Moloko are very much a live band, and this, for the most part, works well. The trip- hop feel still predominates, but they have staked out a corner of that field that is forever theirs, and they’re a more dynamic live proposition than either Portishead or Tricky. They are bound to no fixed agenda, so that all
twists and turns are permitted; and tonight they stray enough from the orthodox path to keep us happy. Though, perhaps, not enough to surpass the expectations raised by the album.
Satisfaction with the grooves, however, is tempered by growing disquiet over Boisin’s robot-dancing and mannered vocal style. In the gaps between songs, names like Toyah, Lene Lovich and Hazel O’Connor are bandied about the audience. That she can shift gear in the space of a breath from little-girl wheedle to commanding Chuck D bellow is one of Moloko’s assets; but in a live situation, such a profusion of masks begins to wear on the nerves. (Alastair Mabbott)
Im- MIKE FLOWERS POPS
Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 9Feb. Ladies with an attitude, fellows that were in the mood — Madonna could never have guessed how appropriately those lyrics would describe a Mike Flowers Pops audience gathered in Edinburgh on a cold wintry night with the intention of dancing the chill away to the latest crazy lounge sounds. Or could she?
Tonight the emphasis is on music! dancing! fun! and lots of it, courtesy of top flight Edinburgh music specialists Going Places. Girls at the bar argue over who gets the pink straw for their advocaat and lemonade; besuited guys in lime green shirts cut a rug to the collected works of Esquivel. The whole of the Assembly Rooms ballroom is on major lapel alert.
Then when everyone’s frugged to their heart’s content, dapper bandleader Mike Flowers provides the live entertainment for the evening, leading his Pop orchestra through a pert rendition of Bacharach’s theme tune to Casino Royale before the miraculous Sound Superb singers Yvonne, Lynn and Juliet flounce onstage in colour co-ordinated frilly frocks to caress the sensibilities with their perfect pitch and harmonised cooing.
Mike Flowers’ mission — to highlight the art of the songwriter. Throughout the course of two top-notch sets, tribute is paid to such melodic luminaries as the aforementioned Burt
Fr . / Slacks. frugs and rock ’n’ roll
Bacharach, Jim Morrison and his Doors, karaoke’s favourite tunesmith Jimmy Webb, ‘Mr’ David Bowie, Noel Gallagher, Lou Reed and his Velvet Underground, the prince of pap, Prince and ‘a young lady who lives north of the Arctic Circle’.
Yes, in the course of an evening of highlights, surely the spacey version of ‘Venus As A Boy’ was the most stellar effort. But let us not forget the TV tunes medley including John Barry’s dramatic theme from The Persuaders! (a straight rendition, that one) and the swoonsome strains of the love theme from The Godfather(‘it’s about love, but let’s not forget - it’s also about organised crime,’ says Mr Flowers, ever vigilant in his role as family entertainer).
Slacks, frugs and rock ‘n’ roll — that’s what it’s all about. (Fiona Shepherd)
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Including previously unreleased tracks by:
PBIMAL SCREAM .,
Plus Brian Eno, New Order, Iggy Pop, Blur, Lou Reed, Elastica, Bedrock Featuring KYO, Underworld ’
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. x 9,. ~co MC 8. ~ . " ‘ DOUBLE LP :‘
The List 23 Feb-7 Mar l996 45