Scottish Opera: A Night at the Chinese Opera (4 stars)

Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Sat 19 May

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Scottish Opera: A Night at the Chinese Opera

OPERA

An afternoon at Scottish Opera was the setting for Judith Weir’s delightful A Night at the Chinese Opera. First performed in 1987 but amazingly only now receiving its premiere north of the border, the opera is instantly engaging. With a light touch, her score and libretto are witty, colourful and beautifully shaped. Opening to a scene where the eye is drawn to huge Chinese vases, the shimmers of the music are dark and sinister, perhaps a foretaste of what is ultimately to face Chao Lin, the central character.

The Chinese Opera of the title is a play set within the context of the opera. The story of both run parallel, with the middle of the three acts being taken up entirely by The Orphan of the Chao Family. Its three actors are very funny, their blood splattering antics effective in their telling of the story as one character after another kills themselves. Lee Blakeley’s production is ingenious, as are the orchestra and cast in delivering Weir’s striking and evocative score.

Also at Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Thu 22 May; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 25 and Fri 27 Jun.

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