By Murdo Janacek
I was pleasantly surprised by this offering of the Scottish Operas at the intimate An Lanntair theatre in downtown Stornoway. I’m not a regular opera goer although I seen a few so I thought I’d go along with my Eve.
Based as it seemed on a modern Hebridean saga of love and infidelity it opens even before it commences with an ex-customer of one of the many ale houses in Kalinovshader sleeping off his tiring imbibing under a copy of the Stornoway Star whilst a tourist ignores him and continues to look for Sammy the Seal in the harbour. A dramatic pianist then swept airily into the auditorium and began to tinkle the ivories beautifully although it was rather unfortunate that he seemed to have a cloud of midges round him that he flapped at from time to time. Still, I was hooked.
The tale unfolded apace with much singing at high volume about love and emotion and so greatly was I moved I can’t actually recall the plot in toto. Suffice to say that a lady was unhappy with her husband – and who can blame her since his mother was a nightmare – and any amount of delicate and lovely singing would not have endeared me to her. In fact, the daughter-law in question got so worked up about it with her friend – or it might have been her sister [being a cheapskate I didn’t have the programme] they had to have a cup of tea – with additives.
Anyway, then the husband goes off for a day or two – business perhaps, or not – and the D-i-L’s friend/sister says she has the key to the garden where D-i-L might meet a man – who happens to be the nephew of the beau of the husbands mother – who has the hots for D-i-L. [I hope you are keeping up with this]. Now, even in opera-world infidelity is a BAD thing Needless to say after a deal of too-ing and fro-ing, wailing and gnashing of teeth and all things expected in this sort of tale, the D-i-L stupidly decides to go along.
At this point the pianist seemed to have an epiphany and he and a singer chappie lapsed into a tuneful song for a few bars. This was be repeated twice more during the performance -apparently.
Well, would you believe it, D-i-L meets said young man in Castle grounds and falls in love – noisily. So noisily that the mother-in-law was never going to sleep through the event despite what they were saying. I was in the third row and my tinnitus was beginning to give me gip. Needless to say, D-i-L couldn’t keep her gob shut about the whole thing – husband comes back and a musical row ensues. Eh? Familiar?
To cap it all Di-L is so fed up she ups and goes to the grounds and downs a bottle of something terrible and falls singing to the floor where she passes out. I suggest this was a bottle of Buckfast since she got up later to take the applause. And all lived miserably ever after.
A great evening of despair and emotion interspersed with musical miserable-ness beautifully sung and acted by Scottish Opera. Many thanks for a lovely evening. Honest! I mean, even An Lanntair’s own technician donned a black suit and shirt for the occasion and looked just so smart I hardly recognised the chap.
Anyway, the snap is of fred [aka; Harry Hunter] ace kart driver from Flamouth.