Reviews & features: Carol Main

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Sarah Connolly

12 Aug 2010

Mezzo soprano returns to jazz roots

Among other things, 2010 is likely to be memorable as the year of the mezzo-soprano at the Edinburgh International Festival. Joyce DiDonato, Petra Lang and Christine Brewer, who replaces the indisposed Susan Graham, are just three of the famous names…

American mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato returns to Edinburgh Festival

16 Jul 2010

DiDonato performs Idomeneo and with David Zobel at EIF 2010

Last summer, mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato soldiered on with a broken leg in London and was plunged into darkness at the Usher Hall. Carol Main keeps everything crossed for the Kansas girl’s Edinburgh return

Les Troyens

1 Sep 20143 stars

Mariinsky Opera delivers stylised Berlioz production at the Edinburgh International Festival

Anticipated as one of the must-sees of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, Mariinsky Opera’s visit with Berlioz’s epic Les Troyens (The Trojans) was a mixed bag. Running for five and a half hours, admittedly with two extended intervals, the…

Simon Thacker’s Ritmata

19 Aug 20143 stars

Tight-knit ensemble pulsing with internationally inspired energy at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Hardly surprising for a group bearing an Italian name that means rhythm, Simon Thacker’s Ritmata is a tight-knit ensemble characterised by an internationally inspired pulsating energy. For their Made in Scotland show in Summerhall’s Café, their…

Dido and Aeneas/Bluebeard’s Castle - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 24 Aug 2013

27 Aug 20134 stars

Oper Frankfurt present a contrasting programme of warm, doomed love and psychological nightmare

In combining Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Oper Frankfurt have created a deeply powerful theatrical and musical experience for their audiences. Both productions are provocative but in quite different ways. While Barrie…

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Je ne sais quoi

20 Aug 20133 stars

A music show by Nathalie Joly

In homing in on French cabaret singer Yvette Guilbert and her relationship with Sigmund Freud, Nathalie Joly has hit on a combination that is both informative and entertaining. Remarkably, the friendship between the pair was a lifelong one of fifty…

Anatomy of the Piano

5 Aug 20133 stars

Tinkling the ivories with one obsessed piano-man

Summerhall’s Anatomy Lecture Theatre is an apt venue for Will Pickvance’s one-man show. Perhaps it was even written with it in mind, as the hour-long entertainment of part lecture, part recital, part taking a piano to bits has broad similarities with…

David et Jonathas, Festival Theatre, Mon 20 Aug

28 Aug 20124 stars

Psychological complexities of OT story brought to the fore in Andreas Homoki's musical feast of a pr

Musically, Les Arts Florissants’ David et Jonathas is a feast. French Baroque opera at its finest, Charpentier’s moving retelling of the biblical tragedy about two men who love each other - however that might be interpreted – is rooted in the most…

Zoe Strachan on The Lady from the Sea - interview

22 Aug 2012

The playwright is collaborating with Craig Armstrong on the production for Scottish Opera

Five years ago, Scottish Opera embarked on a brave new venture called Five:15. The plan was to put together contemporary Scottish writers and composers and commission them to come up with five new 15 minute long operas. Altogether, 15 short operas were…

Qing Cheng

21 Jul 2011

Epic, millenium-spanning Chinese love story part of the China Fringe Festival

A night at the opera takes on a whole new meaning with Qing Cheng, an elaborate yet moving Chinese musical making its European debut at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall as part of the China Fringe Festival. Top billing in a week of cutting-edge entertainment from…

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Music highlights from the 2011 Edinburgh International Festival

7 Jul 2011

Melvyn Tan and Bamberg Symphony Orchestra among picks

Melvyn Tan. The Queen's Hall morning concerts can usually be relied on for a few Festival surprises. Hearing perfectly formed piano music by 18th century Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti alongside Sonatas and Interludes by 20th century American John…

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra play Carl Nielsen's Fourth Symphony

5 Aug 2010

Helsinki-based orchestra bring two nights of romance and drama

In a festival blockbuster of an orchestral programme at the Usher Hall, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra’s pair of concerts stands out as a triple celebration of one of Scandinavia’s greatest composers, Wagner and the human voice. In putting on…

Il Ritorno d’Ulisse

14 Aug 2009

Ulysses the opera brought to life by giant puppets

In parallel with Scotland’s big Homecoming theme of 2009, South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company make their Edinburgh debut with a puppet and animation interpretation of Monteverdi’s opera about Homer’s Ulysses returning from war to his homeland.

Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland at Night

12 Aug 2009

Candlelit concert of music and poetry

For a composer contemplating setting some songs but needing advice from a writer as to who might be an interesting collaborator, No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency author Alexander McCall Smith would seem a reliable choice as a font of knowledge on the…

Bach at Greyfriars

10 Aug 2009

Europe’s finest converge for Johann Sebastian

In Jonathan Mills’ third Edinburgh International Festival programme, the highly successful early evening slots he has established at Greyfriars Kirk are focused this time round on the music of one composer – JS Bach. Across eight hand-picked top…

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Made in Scotland

6 Aug 2009

The soul of Scotland in music

A favourite of youth orchestras at the Fringe, Peter Maxwell Davies’ An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise makes it to the main EIF stage for the first time as part of an orchestral programme celebrating music made in Scotland. The only piece in the Festival…


3 Aug 2009

Boys in fine voice

Think English choirboys and centuries of choral tradition in vast cathedrals spring to mind. Libera is somewhat different. The South London boys, aged seven to 16, who make up the internationally chart-topping group, would rather think of themselves as…

Ludus Baroque

3 Aug 2009

Indulging in Alexander’s Feast

His fame these days may be mainly due to his commanding role as conductor of The Really Terrible Orchestra, but there is a much more serious side to Richard Neville-Towle’s pursuits with a baton. Having founded the baroque chamber orchestra, Ludus…

Ivo Pogorelich in concert

13 Jul 2009

Starring role for the Belgrade pianist who has proven all his critics wrong

As the Susan Boyle saga so ably demonstrated, you don’t have to be the number one winner in competitions to gain fame. Long before her second place hit the headlines, the more notorious world of international piano competitions dealt what should have…

St Kilda - Island of the Birdmen

13 Jul 2009

A multi-media, operatic portrayal of Island life

At 191 metres, there is no building in Scotland anywhere near as tall as Stac an Armin, the highest sea stack in Britain. Along with the slightly shorter Stac Lee, these wildly dramatic sea cliffs were among the hunting grounds for the birdmen of St…

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Budapest Festival Orchestra

21 Aug 2008

Folk and gypsy influence evident in programme of two concerts

Starting off with a programme inspired by gypsy music and Hungarian folk melodies, the Budapest Festival Orchestra give two full orchestral concerts in the last week of the Festival plus two presented by some of their soloists. Featuring some rather…

Camerata Ritmata

21 Aug 2008

Guitar virtuoso-fronted ensemble experiment in jazz, classical and world

A short bus ride heading eastwards and in no time at all the crowds ease as the coastal community of Musselburgh comes in sight with its handy bus stop just outside the honest toun’s Brunton Hall. Appearing here with special guest singer, Daisy Chute of…

Jerusalem Quartet

21 Aug 2008

Globally renowned Israeli foursome make their EIF debut

Making its Edinburgh International Festival debut, the Jerusalem Quartet is the final string quartet to appear at this year’s impressive Queen’s Hall series. Performing in the wake of the Ysaÿe, Belcea and Pavel Haas quartets, the quartet is, says EIF…

Regal king size

21 Aug 2008

Karol Szymanowski considered himself an outsider which is why he identified with Sicily’s King Roger II and why his opera has become a gay favourite, finds Carol Main The Edinburgh International Festival’s staged opera programme is swinging from one…

Julian Lloyd Webber and the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra String Ensemble

14 Aug 2008

Another unlikely Fringe debutante in the shape of cellist Lloyd Webber

Five firsts at the Fringe for Edinburgh Youth Orchestra which breaks fresh ground this year with its new string ensemble of leading players, both past and present. With cellist Julian Lloyd Webber as director and soloist, its Fringe debut also features…