Selected reviews of opera productions and small-scale music theatre shows

The Fairy Queen
(Henry Purcell):
Brinkburn Priory and the Royal Albert Hall, July 2005.

... Cheered by the joyous bustle of an Act IV prelude, Purcell's text pays homage to the spirit of Masque, amid occasional seedy irruptions: a tormented "scurvy poet" (Jonathan Best); or a scurrilous, romping eclogue (Best and Mark le Brocq) for a shepherd and shepherdess.

The rest, staged with charming restraint by Kate Brown, was utter delight: gorgeous off-stage sopranino recorders for Charles Daniels's "Come all ye songsters"; pindrop pianissimi; muted strings for Night's aria, or the unalloyed beauty of Mhairi Lawson's hilarious winged Cupid aria. Pure enchantment. The Independent

... Brown's staging occasionally slid towards camp, but elsewhere was sharply observant of the vagaries of human nature. A life-enhancing evening, every single second of it. The Guardian

Giulio Cesare (Händel):
Birmingham Conservatoire/ Walcot House, July 2000.

... quite stunning professionalism and imagination ... a gripping experience ... sizzling stagecraft ... a rare and remarkable achievement. Birmingham Post

Tobias and the Angel (Jonathan Dove/ David Lan):
Almeida Opera, July 1999 (world premiere), conducted by David Parry

... Dove’s pure magic of those occasions that made you glad to be alive... quite faultless... directed with art-concealing artfulness ... inspiring ... The Times

... Kate Brown’s direction, clear, bold and using symmetry to great effect, could hardly be improved. The Observer

...every nuance of text and music was faithfully matched by the staging... an uplifting and moving experience ... I can’t imagine how it could be better produced than by Kate Brown. Sunday Telegraph

A Conversation with Angels (music by Hildegard of Bingen, script by myself):
Glasgow in March, London in November 1998.

... effective... an absorbing introduction to her exceptional life and visions. The Observer

... breadth and brilliance ... fascinating. The Independent

La Didone (Cavalli/ Busenello):
Tramway, Glasgow, August 1997

...mixing high standards with smartness and sophistication. It looked good, sounded good and was convincing both to the ordinary opera-goer and to the historian.... A rare banquet of opulent music and tender feeling. Opera magazine

Celtic Voyages:
medieval/ traditional Gaelic music theatre for Scottish Early Music Consort (devised by myself).
Mull, Iona, Lewis, Benbecula, Glasgow, Milan, 1997.

... sensitively and successfully weaves together ancient Scottish plainchant and 13th century Galician lovesongs with the beautiful melodies and lyrics of Gaelic songs. The Scotsman

Der Freischütz (Weber):
Zwingenberger Schlossfestspiele August 1996, conducted by Guido Johannes Rumstadt.

...out of the singing cardboard figures that so often populate the Freischütz stage [she made] real people of flesh and blood... Rhein Neckar Zeitung

Riccardo Primo (Händel):
Göttingen Händelfestspiele, June 1996, conducted by
Nicholas McGegan.
An experiment in eighteenth century acting as well as musical performance practice.

... identity between the theatrical and musical impressions was splendidly and successfully realised Rheinpfalzer Zeitung

...acting that had just the right mix of naturalism and baroque stylisation.. the Handel Newsletter

...this Göttinger experiment, cultivating even the stage direction on lines indicated by theatrical research, had nothing academic about it, and certainly made one long for more. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Lady Hamilton's Attitudes (music by Haydn and his contemporaries, script by myself):
Glasgow, Aberdeen, and the British Museum, February/ March 1996

At Home with the Hamiltons...

What an innovative, imaginative and informative bunch the Scottish Early Music Consort are. ... an insightful look, in period costume, into the ménage à trois of Sir Horatio Nelson, Sir William Hamilton, and his wife Emma. The Scotsman

The Scottish Early Music Consort consistently achieve a highly imaginative selection and presentation... the authentic flavour of an evening in the household of Sir William and Lady Emma Hamilton. The Herald

... a thoroughly captivating performance ... Aberdeen Press and Journal

The Scottish Early Music Consort have breathed new life into one of the most scandalous ménage à trois British history has ever known, and painted a stunning musical picture of Regency life ... a warm and affectionate portrait of a learned gentleman too smart to be bothered by the narrow views of Regency society ... Devised, staged and directed by the acclaimed Kate Brown, Lady Hamilton's Attitudes could have gone one all night as far as I was concerned. Aberdeen Evening Express

Celebrating Mr Purcell (Purcell and his theatre music: script by myself, music by Purcell):
Covent Garden Festival and Glasgow, May 1995
An Elegy for Mr Purcell

...witty... highly effective... Glasgow Herald

...a charming and amusing account of the man and his music... Worth catching for its insight into a major but enigmatic musical figure. What's On, London

Las Escondidas (G.P.Cribari):
OPERAting theatre at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, April 1995 (world premiere), conducted by Paul MacAlindin.

...elegiac... hypnotic... this is a fascinating piece.... bold in its use of the Old Fruitmarket space. Glasgow Herald

... the director Kate Brown works her usual stage magic... a stimulating production. The Scotsman

Flavio (Händel):
Halle Händelfestspiele, June 1994/ January 1995, conducted by Howard Arman.

...This is certain: Halle has never had so vivid and entertaining a Händel production... the psychic distress of Guido and Emilia is drawn with deep sensitivity... Hallesche Tageblatt

...Kate Brown's direction was very light and vivacious Mitteldeutsche Zeitung

The Indian Queen (Dryden and Purcell):
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, August 1994, conducted by Gregory Squire

... wit and effervescence. It is amazing what one can achieve with a tiny budget and a big imagination. Financial Times

...scintillating ...The Scotsman

The Loving of Etain (Edward Maguire):
Paragon Ensemble, Glasgow and Edinburgh, March 1994, conducted by David Davies.

...sensuous entertainment... a flexibility and dramatic persuasion that is seldom the privilege of opera... The Guardian

Scenes of Love and War (pieces by Monteverdi and his contemporaries, including Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda):
Scottish Early Music Consort on tour, 1993.

... .. a high level of virtuosity and dedication.. the passionate commitment... was hardly short of magnificent in a form that requires the finest judgment to remain moving without plunging into melodrama... Kate Brown's creative direction allowed the formalities ... to be realised musically... through the fluid body-language of the singers. Ulster News

La Baltasara (Abbattini/Rospigliosi 1668):
Tramway, Glasgow, August 1992. experience of rarest delight, an enchanted voyage across historical time and space to what for most people in the Glasgow audience will have proved a new world of opera... The charm and fluency of the production, the brisk wit and keen intelligence of its stagecraft, the deft manipulation of cohorts of dancers and singers - all this kept the show tautly unfolding, and kept me captivated... Financial Times

La Vita Humana (Marazzoli/Rospigliosi 1656):
Tramway, Glasgow, August 1990

...both intellectual cross-reference and a marked sense of play abounded... what could have been a desperately long-winded evening turned to delight. The Times

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