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OPERA Scottish Opera Die Fledermaus

Glasgow: Theatre Royal, Sat 22 Feb; Edinburgh: Festival Theatre, Tue 25, Thurs 27 Feb, Sat 1 Mar. *iki't

In spite of his reluctance to write for the stage, Johann Strauss would surely have loved the production that paraded itself on the boards of the Theatre Royal last week. Fun, but not flippant, voluptuous but not vulgar, ridiculous but ever respectful, Scottish Opera's new Die Fledermaus is a winner. Sung - and lspoken, for there is much straight dialogue - in English to David Poutney/Leonard Hancock's tolerable translation, this elegant and sparkling new production, directed with a sure and firm hand by Giles Havergal, has stripped away some of the more traditional fripperies attached to Strauss’s most well known operetta and concentrates on the main issues of the piece.

Written in an age when faithfulness to one's husband or wife was never to be doubted for a moment, this version of Fledermaus, makes a penetrating examination of the nature of marriage, of deceit and of men and women’s roles in all of this. Whether they be husband, wife, parlour-maid, prison governor, or even lawyer, all the protagonists' foibles are revealed in the end - irrespective of their place in society and the veneer of respectability which their station confers. Only Dr Falke, nicknamed 'Die Fledermaus', the eponymous bat and instigator of the whole scenario, escapes a come- uppance. But, in a sense, this production makes his victory a Pyrrhic one, for he is the only character outside of the complex web of deception and hence misses out on the humanising experiences which those around him undergo.

Falke is therefore a pivotal character, but this is not to




The Felsons: in powerful form

COUNTRY The Felsons/Radio

more effec tive

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Die Fledermaus: fun but not flippant

say that he does not join in the fun. Duetting with von Eisenstein (the husband) in the first act, the pair are almost camp in a surreal way as they prepare to let von Eisenstein loose - minus his wife - at Prince Orlovsky’s glitzy party. Andrew Hammond and Peter Evans are wonderfully convincing as they anticipate this evening of excitment. The women are strong and determined, with Anne Howells as a macho and mysterious Orlovsky while Lisa Milne, as the parlour-maid Adele shows a fine gift for comic timing as well as a soaring, easy approach to the demanding vocal lines. Janis Kelly’s Rosalinda (the wife) is more serious, her earnest wish to divorce her husband emphasising that, although entertaining, Fledermaus is not trivial.

Kenny Miller’s designs are bold and tastefully decadent, especially at the party when the red and gold coutured chorus are in full, warm, champagne-inspired voice, relaxing in a beautifully lit pink haze. Similar lack of restraint in the orchestra may have oiled the waltz wheels, but conductor Nicholas Braithwaite, making his debut with the company, will no doubt loosen up as the run progresses. (Carol Main)

“’ng actually by drummer Frank LilacDortald

and singer John Miller respectively ironically, their reversion to the one true path actually sounds a lot fresher and way more interesting than much of the newly-minted, super—slick production line fodder coming out of Nashwlle these days The band are still a

getting a better grip of cOuntry rhythms these days, and prowding Miller wrth a stronger support all round.

Edinburgh's Felsons are a tighter unit as a band, and have come on a great deal sinze recording their debut album

l‘iey fax/*ui a much rockier - and often near ror kanilly sound than Sweethearts, and ring the changes by having Kevin ls'lcCiuire swrtcli from e’e lap l: alternate» l)("i‘.‘./"(‘f‘. electric guitar, ruandoii'i anti lap steel

new srzr‘gs uterigside the more familiar

. Sweethearts

Glasgow: King Tut's, Sun 9 Mar. ****

Scotland’s two most talked about country bands shared the bill at King Tut's, but not much more, The most striking thing about a fine gig was jUSl what different routes these bands are finding through country music, a

46 TIIE lIST 2i Feb—6 Mar 1997

Glasgow‘s Radio Sweethearts opened With a set thoroughly steeped in authentic country roots This band has no truck With fashion unhen it tomes to style - they go straight to the core of the music in songs like Footsteps' or 'New ivlemories’, \'/lli(,ll SOUle as if they were written for somebody like Hank SITE-2'; or Faron Young back in their SOs heyday, but are

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little pedestrian at times, but they are i

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They dropped in some strong sounding

inursing a sore leg from a football initiry) in powerful iorrn, both on the rockers

and on more delicate songs like 'Spirit of Us' or the encore selection, ’Shine Like A Road After The Rain' The big guestion

now, though, is where can both bands 3 take it trout here7 Finding out promises

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Urusei YatsuralArab Strap/Eska

Glasgow: King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, 14 %b****

Dry ice enough to conjure up Brigadoon and a beard count to give Victor Kiam the frights. It's a funny Valentine’s bash chez King Tut's, the hullabaloo down to a Sky TV camera crew here to capture the event for posterity. Think beautiful, children. And failing that, why not wave at the camera like any 'nana of lapsed intelligence

Bis were to be the filling on this triple decker scooby snack of a hill but the pesky kids don't show. Fortunately Eska are on hand. Unfortunately your tardy correspondent only catches their last number. Sung by a man in a baco~ foil blouse that would cause a Blind Date contestant to blanche, it's a rumbustious Dinosaur Jr fuss concerning (it would seem) an unfaithful hair drier.

Less concerned With household appliances, Arab Strap deal in boredom, lust and obliteration. 'First Weekend' has been described by some observers as the first post Trainspotting record. Hmni. The delivery may be a Prozac monotone worthy of the laureate of Leith but thereafter the reference tires. ’When You're Gone’ is dellCIOUSly melancholy, indebted to the spirit of Gallic old soalddarsy -— pusher Serge Gainsbourg, and 'Drug Song For Paula’ is a dose of funky lo-fi disco mischief cum punky squall. More, please.

Converts to art rock Pavement-style aeons before Blur, Urusei Yatsura not only boast DIY haircuts and an inscrutable bass player, they also come With an instruction manual. 'This is the part y0u sing along,’ declares ‘Freakshow' before cutting to the criminally infectious bah-bah-ba-doo- clah bit 'Superfly' is a sonic maelstrom » angrier than a bear With a sore noodle, and 'Strategic Hammers’ worms its way into the brain where it assumes squatters' rights wrth more obstinance than a Newbury bypass protester, 'Sardinesl' scream the good folk Urusei helpfully. The beards look confused but, hey, the gigs in the can (Rodger Evans)

Urusei Yatsura: criminally infectious i