Scottish Opera: Seraglio
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 24, Tue 27 & Thu 29 Nov. Seen at Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Sat 27 Oct
The term Turkish harem usually brings to mind opulent palaces, sumptuous silks and sensual, oriental soft-furnishings. In Seraglio, however, it’s an over-sized sand-pit and bleached wooden gate, housed within a huge, black box for this new production in collaboration with the Dutch Nationale Reiseopera. Clean, clear lines then which certainly put the emphasis firmly on the music and the six characters who enact the tale of the beautiful, young European woman being rescued from the Pasha’s Turkish country estate.
It is hard to pinpoint where the sense of unease and consequent faltering flow comes from, but lack of conviction in some of the singing is at times frustratingly obvious. Rebecca Bottone’s Blonde the maid, brightens things up considerably, and Julia Borchert impresses as Konstance. Post-interval is much livelier with more coherent shaping, both musically and in the spoken dialogue, so making the most of the bold costume colours and provocative design.