Arts Review: Silvano

Dir. Roxana Haines, City Halls and Old Fruitmarket, 14th April

The music director of the Scottish Opera explained before the show that the aim of the Opera in Concert series was to broaden the scope of opera. This was successfully achieved in the latest performance in the series by the portrayal of an opera that is frequently overlooked or even forgotten: Silvano. Originally written in 1895 by Mascagni, it has fallen by the wayside and has been overshadowed by his more famous operas. The Scottish Opera’s rendition of this show proved that it should not be forgotten – for whilst the plot is unremarkable, the music is enchanting.

The music was foregrounded, as the opera was performed in the City Halls and Fruitmarket, a venue designed for orchestras. Without scenery, in full view of the whole orchestra, the focus shifted from the opera as a theatrical genre, to the opera as a form of music. The most memorable scenes were those when the orchestra and the choir combined to set the scene: I was transported to a harbour town on the Adriatic coast through the sweet tunes of the choir, whilst the orchestra vividly painted a picture of fishing boats bobbing on waves.

The tension of the show was carried singlehandedly by the masterful performances of the singers. Their powerful voices rose unassisted over the orchestra, displaying the immense grief and love each character experienced in the tragic grip of a doomed love triangle. In particular the role of Mathilde stood out, performed by Emma Bell, whose voice truly seemed to soar over the loud orchestra and managed to reach incredible heights without losing the passion, fear, and tender feeling she was trying to express.

The most disappointing part of the show was the plot, which was unremarkable. Thus, the format of the Opera in Concert lent itself perfectly to Silvano, as it shifted the focus to the beautiful, atmospheric music of Mascagni.

[Kirsty Campbell – @KirstyCampbell3]

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