Last week, Scottish Opera unveiled their 2010/11 season. Well, I say season, the four operas they're putting on next year would be a more accurate description, which is rather a pity. In london Covent Garden and English National Opera will manage 20 and 14 respectively. Even Welsh National Opera can manage seven and Opera North has eight including kicking off a Ring cycle (what a pity the next stage of their Janacek series, From the House of the Dead, isn't coming up here as this season's joint production of Broucek did). What's more, Scottish Opera is being even less adventurous than the last couple have years have been, which is saying something.
Of course, to some extent this isn't entirely their fault - the company has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy since the glorious, though simultaneously ruinous, Ring Cycle of 2003. Well, I say not entirely their fault, but one can argue it only had that effect due to incompetent management. They are not helped by having the burden, rare in the UK arts scene, of a fully salaried orchestra, something impossible to justify given how much work they get. Perhaps if this situation was rationalised they could put together a more ambitious season; in fairness this is something are trying to do at the moment (and both the Herald and the Scotsman's season launch coverage is dominated by it).
Still, let's talk about the art rather than the process and take a look at what we are getting. Things kick off in October and November with Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. We are told,"Internationally renowned baritone Sir Thomas Allen directs". This seems an odd thing to tout in a director, as opposed to, say, directing, but then his credits there are comparitatively few - he is clearly at the outset of his directorial career. That said, if the reviews are anything to go by, his Il barbiere di Siviglia at Scottish Opera a few years ago seems to have been both pretty faithful and good and had some nice comedic touches; he also sounds to be a good director of character. In other words, in these days of director's opera, he could be very much a blessing. All of which bodes well for Figaro. At the podium is music director Francesco Corti whom I've yet to experience (but will at the Festival in a concert performance).