With bassist Jihoon Kim singing on this autumn tour in Aberdeen and Inverness, filling in for the ill Brindley Sherratt, the Central Belt performances Music Director Stuart Stratford’s deep immersion in the later music of Giuseppe Verdi was particularly notable for the Scottish Opera debuts of all but one of the singers.

The exception was tenor Peter Authy, who sang the title role in Puccini’s Edgar in 2019 and has been seen regularly in Scotland. Here he gave the best of the second half as Alfredo in La Traviata and Don Alvaro in The Force of Fate, and made the most dramatic impression of the evening after soprano Eri Nakamura.

In the end, though, the night belonged to her, from her first performance as Desdemona in Othello to her demise as Leonora in Force. Nakamura’s voice is a beautiful instrument, capable of soaring into the stratosphere, but also richly sonorous in the lower end of her register and pinpointing every point of that range.

It’s also true that the Japanese singer and South Korean bass trained at the Verdi Conservatory in Milan had the best Italian diction we heard all evening.

Which is not to say that there was anything lacking in the performances of Authy, baritone Lester Lynch and mezzo Katharine Aitken. Edinburgh’s Aitken’s contributions were limited to supporting roles and it was a shame she wasn’t given at least one solo outing, and Lynch was slow but impressively dramatic as Rodrigo in scenes from Don Carlo and perhaps confusing for those new to the show. in opera, as Don Carlo in La Forza. But his best performance was with Nakamura as Alfred’s father, Germont, in the opening of Act 2 of La Traviata.

This extract from the best known of the works included highlights the difficulties inherent in the Stratford format of these concerts. Its length meant that there was real tension in the clear narrative, but it also made for a long night where a good number of viewers decided after ten hours that they had had enough.

Much of the conductor’s intention is to showcase his stage orchestra and his fine soloists alongside the singers, but these concert performances of selected canons by famous operatic composers (Verdi after Puccini’s 2021 concert at Dundee’s Caird Hall) appear to be they are also aimed at those new to opera as well as regular visitors. Perhaps this program required little of them.


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