Scottish Opera have returned to live performances this summer with a new production of Verdi's Falstaff, directed by Sir David McVicar and conducted by Scottish Opera's Music Director Stuart Stratford.
The production opened with a run of outdoor performances in the Scottish Opera Production Studios car park in Edington Street, Glasgow from 3-17 July, and has then moved indoors for performances at Edinburgh Festival Theatre as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.
The cast, featuring Phillip Rhodes as Ford, Gemma Summerfield as Nannetta, and Elgan Llŷr Thomas as Fenton, have been praised for their performances:
"conductor Stuart Stratford never allowed the quicksilver energy of the music to falter, with the notoriously tricky fugal finale – the stumbling block of many a performance – a particular triumph"
"Gemma Summerfield and Elgan Llyr Thomas give a particularly glowing account of the young lovers Nannetta and Fenton"
Rowena Smith, The Guardian
"Gemma Summerfield’s sweetly sung Nannetta [provides] the captivating freshness of youth, lightly flirtatious, quietly determined"
"The ultimate winner is Verdi’s quicksilver score, more extraordinary for the fact that music director Stuart Stratford’s fully-engaged orchestra plays from an adjacent studio building, broadcast live into the auditorium space"
"...Fenton, ardently characterised by Elgan Llyr Thomas..."
Ken Walton, The Scotsman [Glasgow performances]
"Phillip Rhodes impresses as the energetically suspicious husband Ford and his deceptive alter-ego, Mr Brook"
Mark Brown, The Telegraph
"the opera was performed in the company’s workshop car park, with the orchestra beamed from inside and the conductor Stuart Stratford marshalling the singers under a tent via video screens. [...] Stratford’s achievement is remarkable given the score’s intricacy in the Garden scene, where Team Wives and Team Ford squabble in counter-rhythms, while the outsider Fenton spins a golden lyrical thread at the heart of the ensemble"
"The vocal stars of the show are Gemma Summerfield’s big-voiced Nanetta, Elgan Llyr Thomas and a deluxe trio of Falstaff’s sidekicks: Aled Hall, Alastair Miles and Jamie MacDougall"
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times
"Gemma Summerfield sings a smashingly pure Nannetta"
"Phillip Rhodes sings Ford with unusual lyricism and warmth, almost enough to make this rotter sympathetic"
Simon Thompson, The Times
"Gemma Summerfield gave an exceptional performance as Nannetta, her Queen of the Fairies magically floating notes with pure beauty"
"Phillip Rhodes [was] an outraged Ford, delightfully scheming as Mr Brook, and Elgan Llŷr Thomas was a sweetly love-struck Fenton"
"Stratford drew a steady, measured performance from his players, with fine solo work and supporting his singers well"
David Smythe, Bachtrack
"Phillip Rhodes, as the outraged husband Ford and his disguised alter-ego Mr Brook, captures, in song and gesture, the power and energetic humour of his character’s misguided suspicion"
Mark Brown, The National
"Gemma Summerfield stands out as a silver-toned, beautifully nuanced Nannetta"
"Scottish Opera’s orchestra is on splendid form under conductor Stuart Stratford"
David Kettle, The Scotsman [Edinburgh performances]
Falstaff runs until 14 August at Edinburgh Festival Theatre as part of the Edinburgh International Festival. Read more about the production here.
Photo credit: J. L. Preece