Fringe Classical

Miranda Heggie

La Bohème

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Lauriston Halls

Five stars

Consort of Voices

Canongate Kirk

Four stars

Cantica Alba

St Andrew’s and St George’s West

Four stars

A MASSIVE triumph for a company still in its infancy, Magnetic Opera’s La Bohème saw some seriously high quality singing coupled with an engaging and coherent production. With a goal to provide "accessible and affordable" opera, all Magnetic Opera’s performances are sung in English, and the singers’ diction in this production was remarkably clear, although William Grist and Percy Pinkerton’s English translation of the original libretto perhaps has a little too much swearing for my liking.

Director Thomas Henderson’s production is a very classic one, the staging and costumes further evoking the tale of our ill-fated Parisian bohemians. Italian soprano Francesca Matta was captivating in the role of Mimi, and her duet with Ian McBain as Rodolfo at the end of act three was beautifully passionate and angst-ridden. Under the baton of artistic director Calum Fraser, the nine-piece chamber orchestra captured the lavish qualities of Puccini’s score in Kenneth Roberts’ orchestral reduction.

WITH a programme of music set to Shakespeare texts, Edinburgh based vocal ensemble Consort of Voices presented a selection of different composers’ interpretations of Shakespeare’s words, under the direction of Stuart Hope. Opening with the New Mexican contemporary composer Z Randall Stroope’s Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day, the choir sang with a fresh, well balanced blend and sophisticated synchronicity. The percussive nature of Double Double Toil and Trouble, the third of Finnish composer Jaako Mantyjarvi’s set of 4 Shakespeare songs was tightly executed, as were the ringing bell-like sounds in Vaughan-Williams’ Full Fathom Five.

With lush and sensitive accompaniment from Neil Metcalf, Hope’s own SATB arrangement of Finzi’s song cycle Let us Garlands Bring had an attractive depth, with Finzi’s melodies still being at the fore.

A EUROPEAN Pilgrimage saw a cappella vocal ensemble Cantica Alba give a whistle-stop tour of the last six centuries of European sacred choral music. Singing with a rich, full bodied sound, the intermingling phrases of Tallis’ Loquebantur vaniis linguis weaved amongst each-other with balanced dissonance. Displaying a great versatility, Liszt’s Ave verum corpus was gently soothing, while Bruckner’s sumptuous harmonies in his Ave Maria were both potent and tender. Moving on to the 20th Century, with a selection of Baltic composers, Arvo Pärt’s The Deer’s Cry was compelling and contemplative, with impeccably clear diction throughout. Ending with a pair of pieces by contemporary Scottish composers Rory Boyle and Sally Beamish, with the choir bringing out a vast array of light and shade in Beamish’s Gaudent in coelis.