Scottish Chamber Orchestra marks 40 years with Berlioz's Beatrice and Benedict
The Shakespeare-inspired opera opens a new season, with performances from Llŷr Williams and Christian Zacharias
For 40 years, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra has been bringing the very best of orchestral music to Edinburgh and Glasgow doorsteps, as well as much further afield. Their education work over has been rightly lauded for its pioneering ambition, commissions of new music have produced significant works of the 20th and 21st centuries and numerous illustrious conductors and soloists have graced the SCO’s platforms. Celebrating all of this, and undoubtedly more, the SCO turn to the world of opera for the opening performances of their 40th anniversary season.
In two concert performances headed up by Robin Ticciati, one of their most successful principal conductors from the past four decades, Berlioz’ Beatrice and Benedict is the latest opera in the SCO’s now traditional way to start their season. In March, Ticciati extended his commitment to the SCO for a further three years, and at the age of 30, is one of the most sought-after opera conductors around. Glyndebourne, Covent Garden and New York Met have all engaged him already, and in 2014 he takes up the post of music director at Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
Given its UK premiere in Glasgow during the 1930s, Beatrice and Benedict is based on Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing, with the title roles of its two amusingly witty lovers taken by Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill and American tenor Kenneth Tarver.
Other anniversary highlights to come include a two-week performance cycle of every Schumann symphony (again with Ticciati conducting), new commissions from Peter Maxwell Davies, Martin Suckling and Sally Beamish and piano concertos from Llŷr Williams, Maria João Pires and Christian Zacharias. Plus there are some return visits from old friends, conductors Joseph Swensen and Oliver Knussen, and a major tour to the Far East.
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Thu 3 Oct; City Halls, Glasgow, Fri 4 Oct.