Opera North at Theatre Royal
Over two nights Opera North transported the Theatre Royal from Scotland to California, with mixed results.
First up was Verdi’s Macbeth, a retelling of Shakespeare’s tale of murder and power. Macbeth (Béla Perencz) and Lady Macbeth (Kelly Cae Hogan) stole the show with their voices, and the famous ‘mad scene’ captured the spooky nature of the opera perfectly.
Disappointingly, there were not three, but a chorus of witches that seemed somewhat lacking in the sinister energy required for the parts.
The production promised a lot, with its eerie woodland setting and copious amounts of blood from the outset.
Despite these efforts to jazz it up a bit, the performance only felt like it really got going towards the end, with the final image of Macbeth and his wife about to be burned by an angry mob after their deaths.
The following night saw the theatre transformed into a dusty saloon in the middle of the nineteenth century for Puccini’s Girl of the Golden West, a classic tale of love, mistaken identity, and guns.
The all male chorus maintained the energy needed to present a rowdy bunch of gold miners, but female protagonist Minnie (Alwyn Mellor) carried the show with her absolute command of them all.
This performance didn’t fail to tug on the heartstrings; when Minnie realised that her love Dick Johnson (Rafael Rojas) was also revealed to be the criminal Ramerrez, their duets were passionate and moving, and for once this opera had a happy ending.
Girl of the Golden West made up for a slightly disappointing first night, and would be a must-see for any sceptical opera goer.