Edinburgh International Festival music review: Scottish Opera: HMS Pinafore at the Usher Hall, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ken Walton
Of THE many delightful operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, HMS Pinafore certainly ranks among their most accomplished. Gilbert’s satire is edgy – for its time – and Sullivan’s musical pastiches possess a lasting craftsmanship and ingenuity.
But there’s a datedness that requires something special in the way of presentation and production to make it truly come alive for a modern audience. Sunday’s performance by Scottish Opera, with homely narrative by Tim Brooke-Taylor, and conducted with detailed charisma by Richard Egarr, wasn’t exactly show-stopping, but it did make a pretty good case for the musical merits.
Elizabeth Watts’ endearingly sung Josephine, the innocent optimism of Toby Spence’s Ralph, Neal Davies’ snarling Dick Deadeye, the caricatured upper-class-twittery of John Mark Ainsley’s Sir Joseph Porter, the periodic whimsy of Kitty Whately’s Hebe, the amusing indifference of Andrew Foster-Williams’ Captain, and Hilary Summers’ strangely pantomimic, whole-grained Buttercup, were all well and good, as were the sturdy chorus and orchestra.
But a set of hats and sundry wardrobe items as props weren’t quite enough to ignite the much-needed theatrical energy. Continuity was initially touch and go. “Our church choir did it this way,” mentioned a member of the audience. But this is the Edinburgh International Festival.
Published in The Scotsman on 25 August 2015
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