Opera review: Scottish Opera Connect, Glasgow

SCOTTISH Opera Connect’s latest project culminated in a well-balanced double bill: Jonathan Dove’s introspective new opera, The Walk in the Garden, based on God’s expulsion of Adam and Eve; and the shameless exuberance and romping energy of Stephen Deazley’s Dr Ferret’s Bad Medicine Show.
Picture: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan/flickrPicture: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan/flickr
Picture: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan/flickr

Scottish Opera Connect

Websters Theatre, Glasgow

Star rating: ***

Dove’s short work seems longer than it is, dominated entirely by its two central characters, and a style of music – underpinned almost exclusively by the white-clad centre-staged string quartet – that lacks genuine drama and peaks of tension. It’s that sameness that drains the long sung dialogue of sustained interest.

But well done to this team of youngsters who tackled the positives head on. Both musical director Chris Gray and his assistant conductor Adam Gerber extracted dynamic unanimity from the bookending chorus and determined fluidity from the quartet. Tenor Glen Cunningham’s Adam was light and affectionate, if occasionally prone to ripe vibrato. Charlotte Heather’s Eve was vocally and theatrically captivating, if verbally indistinct at times. Julie Brown’s staging was simple, tasteful and effective.

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The truly mad action came in Deazley’s fast-moving yarn of an old-style medicine man with an unlikely cure for bad children. As such, there’s a wacky, music theatre flavour to the score, instrumentally exciting and wildly humorous. Centred around the adult comic skills of baritone Andrew Mactaggart, this was a comprehensive showcase for the full ensemble.