REVIEWS

The Scotsman

Opera Scotland

Noyes Fludde 2016

Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland

On the opening weekend of the Lammermuir Festival, the largest event yet staged was Benjamin Britten's great community opera Noyes Fludde. For this there was a capacity audience in Dunbar Parish Church. Over a hundred performers consisted of a blend of top professional musicians, plus amateurs and children drawn from Dunbar Primary School. This made for a chorus of twenty-eight, and an orchestra of around fifty, which included members of Music Co-OPERATIVE Scotland, who had spent much time with the young musicians. The assembled forces, including of course the audience-congregation, gave a true community performance, with rousing singing from all.

The evidence of hard work in the lead up to the Festival was there for all to see. By all accounts, Siân Edwards, having taken several days out from her busy international schedule, had played a great role in encouraging, indeed galvanising, all the participants. Sue Baxendale, too, as Project Manager had given up many days to help prepare the performers for this remarkable experience.

To our reviewer, present for the matinee, the performance was all he'd hoped for. Britten's music made a strong impact, its intriguing blend of instruments coming through clearly. Donald Maxwell, a veteran of international houses, used all his experience and projected the Voice of God with a variety of tone and colour. Andrew McTaggart continues to grow in stature, his presence growing with every production. Penelope Cousland too did well, interacting with the cast and 'congregation'.

Costumes, props and sets - all made of recycled and upcycled materials - were eye-catching. The youngsters themselves had made a splendid rainbow and lots of stars as well as a crescent moon. Mention should also be made of the atmospheric video projections, which were well managed.

This was a wonderful experience - all children everywhere should be able to take part in such an event.

On this evidence the Lammermuir Festival, founded only in 2010, is clearly going from strength to strength under Artistic Directors Hugh Macdonald and James Waters.

Iain Fraser (Opera Scotland)