The Secret Marriage – Scottish Opera

Hands up how many people know the Secret Marriage and can whistle some of the tunes.

I thought so; only those who have been working on it with Scottish Opera recently. Yet the strange thing is, as one sits there in the dress circle tapping one’s smile in time with the music,  one has the feeling that although the work is not widely known, the tunes are already somehow in your head.

Mr Cimarosa’s work seems at one and the same time familiar and unfamiliar. Does this describe a work which is predicatable? Well, perhaps so. Yet not particularly any the less enjoyable for that.

Scottish Opera’s programming is sometimes surprising. Did they consciously want us to compare this work to the Two Widows of several weeks ago? The music last night was very different, but the plot, such as it was seemed oddly familiar. Once again we were back in a well designed drawing room with a story that hung only by the flimsy cotton thread of someone changing their mind about whom they would love. Having said that, the Secret Marriage carried its wit on its voluminous sleeves much more comfortably than Mr Smetana’s piece so recently did.

Amongst other good singing, Rebecca Bottone’s Carolina stood out as being particuarly good. The clarity of both her words and her cheek shone out from the stage. It was not difficult to see what Paolino saw in her –  as though Kylie Minogue had been dressed up in fifties A-line and dipped in a sweet buffa coating. In the end though, this was a strictly ensemble piece and no-one let the side down.

A sparking libretto, a clever set and a jolly, if light, score made this another delightful evening out. Scottish Opera know how to please us. Do they know how to challenge us? Do they know how to surprise us?

Time will tell.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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