RSAMD, Glasgow, 1 Feb; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 7 & 9 Feb

You’ll not find it in a high street store or supermarket, but the RSAMD’s three-for-the-price-of- one offer is a bargain. For most opera companies, whether professional or not, one opera a night is quite enough, thank you. Undaunted, the RSAMD Opera School presents a triple bill of short masterpieces from the early 20th century.

The three operas are completely contrasting and, according to Christopher Underwood, head of vocal studies, should elicit a range of responses. ‘lt’ll be a sort of Classic FM night with three different experiences in one evening,’ he says. ‘After the first, Stravinsky’s Mavra, there will be a feeling of enjoyment, but people will probably be puzzled.’

Vaughan Williams’ Riders To The Sea, he says, ‘will have the audience weeping into their interval beer’, but Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi to finish ought to have everyone

laughing as they leave. Of the three, this comic triumph is the

most familiar, especially through

the popular aria ‘O mio babbino caro’.

The three for one bargain was almost too much for her

Less well known is Mavra, being performed in Scotland for the first time. ‘lt’s a bit of a rarity that Tim Dean, our head of opera, has had his eye on for our level of young, professional type of student,’ says Underwood. ‘It may be outside the normal repertoire, but he felt that it was something we

should look at.’

Appealing for its wittiness, Mavra is written in a blend of Russian and Italian styles. Involving a young lover cross-dressing as a cook. ‘It is,’ says Underwood, ‘full of pastiche. It’s Stravinsky firmly tongue-in-cheek; a romp with a touch of Monty Python about it.’

Vaughan Williams’ Riders To The Sea brings a change of mood. The burlesque of Stravinsky shifts to the intensity of anguish brought about by lives lost at sea. Set on the west coast of Ireland, the piece is a virtual word for word setting of the tragic drama by John Millington Synge. Already, the sea has claimed the lives of four brothers and their father. The clothes of a fifth son are found washed up on the shore, but it is when the sea claims her remaining son as he takes horses to a fair that Maurya finally finds her grief turning into resignation. ‘lt’s a terrific opera,’ says Underwood, ‘with a very sad, haunting story about the acceptance of the tragic life of fishing people.’

According to Dean, ‘short operas are often ignored because the big opera companies feel they are bad box office, but this has led to great works being neglected.’ Underwood says: ‘We look at the talents of the students and come up with the most imaginative programmes that give everyone a

chance.’ (Carol Main)



Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 1 Feb; Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sat 2 Feb

Torke the tourist

44 THE LIST 91' .Jat‘ l"- iel; PCT."

What with Sally Beamish's new Vio/a Concerto and about to be llll‘."(3li(}(l new opera. the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra preparing to give world premieres of new orchestral works by Edward Harper, Malcolm Hayes and Selena Kay Scotland is awash with first performances; right now. In among then‘ is Michael loike's comn‘. ssion ll‘()ll‘. the RSNO. An /—l/iieii(.‘.'2n Abroad. Appointed as the first ever

; ssociate composer of the RSNO in 1991'. the Mli‘."./£ltli<(3(} born Torke is quite a favourite in Scotland. Of lllél]()l’ significance was his Pe/‘ci ss/on Concerto. written especially for the RSNO and young Scottish virtuoso. Colin Currie. and premiered last March.

The latest coiiiniis;s.;)ii is described by the composer as a twentyminutetone poem. Currently resident in New York. he

has found inspiration in how Visitors tend to see the city. ‘I am inspired by their simple energy and appreciation of what my hometown has to offer. which often opens my eyes to new ways of seeing New York.' he says. There is a parallel with George Gershwm's An American In Paris. which transports the listener to the sights and sounds of the Hench capital. 'Wonderment and curiosity kindle the traveller's energy] he says. ‘yet there remains an unintended lack of sophistication.' Of An American Abroad. which WI” be conducted by fellow US citizen and RSNO associate conductor. Marin Alsop. Torke says: 'It's my hope that the delight and concomitant lll(—3i£lll(3il()iy of discoveiy an American might have abroad »- a particular romance of travel is expressed in this composition] (Carol Maini


QMU, Glasgow, Sun 27 Jan

It's with some disappointment that yOu spot the four coaches parked outside. Wasn't the NME Tour Supposed to be about fame-hungry young freaks sharing speed and toilet roll on the same dilapidated old bus while they transform Britain's youth with the healing hand of rock'n'roll’? Well. possibly. But these bands are pretty big draws in their own right. due at least in part to the NME's usually hyperbolic promotion.

The Coral (.00 ) don't quite live up to the hype. but this scally six-piece have some refreshingly wide musical influences. mixing punk. psychedelia and space-age bluegrass while singing harmonies about the Spanish Main. They've also got the coolest bassist since Bootsy Collins and a lead singer with the pained expressions and jerky movements of a man wrestling with a particularly troublesome poo.

Their drummer may be absent (visa problems) but with the Verve's Pete Salisbury as a fine replacement. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (O... ) put in the performance of the night. Their Mary Chain fixation extends to black leather and bird nest barnets. but when you've got a band who smoulder with such an irresistibly dark intensity. it's difficult to get too worked up with something as petty as plagiarism.

Lostprophets pit their wits

Taking the opposite route across the pond for musical inspiration. Lostprophets to. l are from Wales but sound like they're from LA and look like extras from Heartbreak High. They are saved from utter shiteness only by their guitaiist's affection for pulling ridiculous; rock shapes and the pogo pit's obVIous enthusiasm for their nu metal pish. Andrew W. K. (.00 l is cut from a Similar cloth but is rather more exciting. and the air is rich Willi the smell of fermented sweat Within seconds of his arrival onstage. He proceeds to play lots of songs Wllil the word 'party' in the title that mix Kiss. Iron Maiden and Banarama in roughly equal measure. The whole is less than the parts. but only Just. (James Smart)