Opera review: Turandot, Edinburgh Usher Hall

Scottish Opera perform Turandot. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Scottish Opera perform Turandot. Picture: Colin Hattersley

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A PUBLIC announcement at the start of the concert, explaining that due to technical problems there would be no supertitles, must have disappointed many in the audience.

Language, however, is just one form of communication – and within seconds it was clear there was no need for fluent Italian to enjoy what Scottish Opera had to offer.

The power generated by almost 200 musicians and vocalists gathered together to create a unified sound – and the almost physical impact that can have on you – was to some extent to be expected.

Less guaranteed is a passion and emotional intensity that has the capacity to move you to tears – but that’s exactly what we got.

From conductor to soloists to orchestra to chorus, there were no weak links. At times it felt more like a staged production than a concert performance, so strong was the characterisation. Ping, Pang and Pong (Nicholas Lester, Andrew Kennedy and Christopher Turner respectively) in particular delivered their lines with such animation, the lack of supertitles was an irrelevance.

Claire Rutter, as Princess Turandot, dressed in dramatic black with a flaming red scarf, was every inch the complex royal; Aberdeenshire-born Eleanor Dennis was a heartbroken Liù; Spaniard José Ferrero delivered Nessun dorma as if his life depended on it; and Sir Willard White had a touching gravitas. Yet this was a Turandot with no real stars – rather a team effort in every sense. Language, however, is just one form of communication – and within seconds it was clear there was no need for fluent Italian to enjoy what Scottish Opera had to offer.

The power generated by almost 200 musicians and vocalists gathered together to create a unified sound – and the almost physical impact that can have on you – was to some extent to be expected.

Less guaranteed is a passion and emotional intensity that has the capacity to move you to tears – but that’s exactly what we got.

From conductor to soloists to orchestra to chorus, there were no weak links. At times it felt more like a staged production than a concert performance, so strong was the characterisation. Ping, Pang and Pong (Nicholas Lester, Andrew Kennedy and Christopher Turner respectively) in particular delivered their lines with such animation, the lack of supertitles was an irrelevance.

Claire Rutter, as Princess Turandot, dressed in dramatic black with a flaming red scarf, was every inch the complex royal; Aberdeenshire-born Eleanor Dennis was a heartbroken Liù; Spaniard José Ferrero delivered Nessun dorma as if his life depended on it; and Sir Willard White had a touching gravitas. Yet this was a Turandot with no real stars – rather a team effort in every sense.

Rating: * * * * *

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