BambinO | Edinburgh Academy (Venue 70) | Star rating: ****
The first thing that strikes you about BambinO, is how beautiful everything – and everybody – looks. The attention to detail that has gone into the sky-themed set and costume design sends a clear message that Scottish Opera cares as much about its tiny audience members as it does its adults.
Aimed at babies aged six to 18 months, a short period of time but one which encompasses enormous change, the piece had its work cut out. Chiefly, how to keep young, inquisitive minds engaged without scaring them – but apart from one particularly sudden high note which seemed to cause upset in two or three babies (who soon settled back down), BambinO contains just the right amount of gentle excitement.
The story, such as it is, revolves around a mummy bird tending to her egg as it grows. Newly hatched, the baby bird (played by baritone Timothy Connor who, comically, is much larger than his soprano mother, Charlotte Hoather) starts to explore his immediate world. As his confidence increases, so does his capacity to test his mother’s patience – until finally it’s time for baby to leave the nest and make his own way.
Clearly, most of this 45-minute narrative is lost on the babies and toddlers in the room, but they certainly understand the excitement of the egg hatching (especially after Hoather takes it around the room, pre-hatching, for them all to stroke), and Connor’s bittersweet departure.
More importantly, the music seems to have clear resonance with young ears. Lliam Paterson’s score blends the two aforementioned voices with cello and percussion, with the opposing vocal sounds prompting plenty of surprised faces.
Cleverly, no discernible dialogue is actually sung, just words and phrases in Italian, giving the show an authentic operatic feel without the need to follow a fixed storyline.
• Until 20th August