THE decision to restage Olivier Fuch's Royal Opera studio production of Benjamin Britten's opera in the composer's centenary year for the annual collaboration between the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Scottish Opera was a superb one.
Fuch's staging, crisp and modern in a modular, neon and sharply-dressed way, and brilliantly eloquent, gives an ideal platform for the young singers – and the instrumentalists who join the opera orchestra in the pit, of whom Matthildur Gisladottir, on chiming celeste, and harpsichord, deserves special mention.
With aerial artist Jami Reid-Quarrel reprising his role as Puck and counter-tenor Tom Verney's Oberon a guest from the Guildhall Opera course – and one of the best voices on stage – the rest of the company are all studying next door to the theatre and the stage-craft on show is impressive. If the mechanicals inevitably steal the show in a hilarious final Pyramus and Thisbe, with Andrew McTaggart's Bottom at the head of the pack, the quartet of young lovers are equally adept in their realisation of Mandy Demetriou's choreography. The closing moments of Act Two, when Puck files them neatly away in an Ikea shelving unit in their underwear, perfectly, and movingly, complemented the score.
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Much of Britten's prettiest music in the score is instrumental, and the vocal lines are demanding of the range of young voices, which sometimes showed even in the more powerful instruments of Elinor Rolfe Johnson's Tytania and Anush Hovhannisyan's Helena.