Craignish Village Hall, Ardfern
There was a ripple of amusement when baritone Andrew McTaggart, briefly in the role of Eugene Onegin, sang of Tatyana's "quaint but rustic" life with her books. Visits from Scottish Opera are treasured in rural Argyllshire and these days the tours are also a showcase for the company's Emerging Artists programme, which here included director Lissa Lorenzo and composer Gareth Williams (neither of whom was present) as well as McTaggart and his Tatyana, soprano Sarah Power.
Completing the quartet of very fine voices were Irish mezzo Maire Flavin and tenor Paul Curievici, both also highly charismatic performers and able to meet the demands of a programme that ranged from baroque Handel and Haydn to a brand new trio from Williams, Until The Glass Shatters, created as part of a project with Glasgow's Gartnavel Hospital aimed at helping Cystic Fibrosis sufferers.
Compelling though it was, it sat rather oddly immediately after the interval in an evening otherwise dedicated to affairs of the heart as portrayed in the operatic canon. Truth to tell, the narrative of the night does not bear very harsh scrutiny, and some professional writing input into the singers' clunky spoken links, as they go from one sequence of songs to another, would not have gone amiss. I fancy that may sort itself out over the tour, however, as the vivacious foursome take ownership of their show.
Musically, it is already in good shape, with familiar arias like Rigoletto's La donna e mobile, the chaps' duet from Bizet's Pearl Fishers and arias from Rinaldo and Manon for the girls, sitting comfortably alongside a comic gem by Jonathan Dove from The Enchanted Pig and a concluding quartet from Weill's Lady In The Dark that was just one of many beautifully balanced emsembles.
Opera Highlights play at Ballachulish Village Hall tomorrow.