Preview: Inés de Castro
James MacMillan conducts and Olivia Fuchs directs Spanish tragedy for Scottish Opera
First seen in 1996, James MacMillan’s first large-scale opera, Inés de Castro, makes a welcome return to the Scottish Opera stage. Based on the play by Jo Clifford, it tells of the horrific fate of Inés, the Spanish lover of the 14th-century crown prince who became King Peter I of Portugal. This time round, MacMillan himself is conducting.
‘It’s a great opportunity to revisit the opera,’ he says, ‘and I am delighted it is in a brand new production and that I was invited to conduct.’ Over the almost 20 years since it was originally seen, MacMillan has had time to reflect on Inés. ‘I’ve taken the revival as an opportunity to do things to the score which had been on my mind anyway. There are a couple of cuts, tidying up and I’ve reset some vocal lines,’ he says. ‘I’ve come back to it with a different perspective and think it’s a better piece now. The experience of writing other pieces has allowed me to see things through an older composer’s eyes. I still love the piece and am very pleased with it.’
Director Olivia Fuchs’ new production sets the opera in more recent times than those in which Inés was tragically caught up in the political tensions between Spain and Portugal. Taking inspiration from the 1970s dictatorships of South America, the production looks to the torture, oppression and civil rights abuse which characterised what was going on then. ‘It’s making a statement of the timeless nature of the story,’ says MacMillan. ‘It is a love story, with a human drama at the centre of what is a huge political mess. The story resonates today because it is timeless. It will seem like a modern tale.’
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Thu 22, Sat 24 Jan; Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 29, Sat 31 Jan.