PUCCINI’S second opera, Edgar, barely sees the light of day. There are reasons for this. The score is mostly embryonic; the plot more like a savage edit of something longer; the big numbers never quite as uniquely memorable as in La Bohème or Tosca.
But with its periodic flashes of the future master, Edgar is well worthy of a place in Scottish Opera’s Sunday afternoon opera-in-concert series, where the house orchestra and chorus take centre stage in lesser-known repertoire.
Scottish Opera: Edgar ***
Theatre Royal, Glasgow
In this setting, weaknesses in the operas matter less, and a useful level of stage direction (by Roxana Haines) provides enough animation to bring it all alive.
It’s a treat, of course, to hear an opera score delivered by an orchestra freed from the pit, and by and large, the sprightly Italian conductor Gianluca Marcianò inspired a thrusting, directional performance. The main chorus was set a little too far back to be fully effective, unlike the fresh voices of the Scottish Opera Young Company sited out front.
Of the main cast, the one truly outstanding performance came from mezzo soprano, Justina Gringytė, whose red hot portrayal of the Carmenesque Tigrana was show-stopping from the moment she stepped on stage. It really is her opera. Claire Rutter’s Fidelia opened modestly, growing superbly in stature. David Stout offered a stalwart, straightforward Frank, Richard Wielgold a profound and reliable Gualtiero. The one weak link was Peter Auty, whose higher tenor register, where the vocal heat of this role truly lies, made faint impression. - KEN WALTON