EIF music review: Scottish Opera: HMS Pinafore
EIF music review: Scottish Opera: HMS Pinafore

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 …

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Edinburgh Festival

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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