Bloody tale of love, death and betrayal; music & THEATRE.
Byline: Stephen Martin
Ines de Castro Scottish Opera 24.01.15 *****
THERE'S only one word for this show... wow.
This is opera in the raw... intense and utterly in your face.
An emotional roller coaster, which grabs you by the throat, keeps hold and doesn't let go.
Love, life, death, betrayal: all the big themes are here.
And in what style, too. Honestly, if you think opera's not for you, then this is the show to make you think again.
The action (and there's oodles of it) is set in Portugal amid simmering political tension with neighbours Spain. The focus of that tension is Ines de Castro, Spanish mistress of Portuguese Crown Prince Pedro and mother of his two love children.
The people aren't keen on a Spaniard sharing the Prince's bed. Especially one as pretty as Ines.
But her real problem is popular prejudice, it's evil Pacheco, scheming spin doctor to Pedro's dad the King, who you get to boo at the end panto-style.
Pacheco wants Ines killed and wants Pedro out of the way too - preferably on the field of the battle where he'll die, too. It seems unfair to single out any of the superb cast but Stephanie Corley is immense as Ines and Paul Carey Jones dazzles as Pacheco.
When Ines is confronted in the second act by Pedro's spurned wife Blanca, you can almost feel the tension crackling.
Blanca loathes Ines not just for stealing her man but for having the children she can't have.
It's an explosive showdown and one that will live in the memory for a long time.
So will the final scene when the ghost of Ines (she's suffered a bloody death by now) appears to speak to a small girl. When the girl opens her lungs to sing, it will honestly melt your heart.
The music is beautiful, dramatic and sung in English.
This opera, written by Scots composer James MacMillan, was first performed in 1996.
The 2015 Scottish Opera revival, fittingly, has MacMillan himself as conductor.
What a night. No wonder MacMillan was cheered to the rafters at the curtain call.
Do yourself a favour and get a ticket.
Ines de Castro is on at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh tomorrow. Check www.scottishopera.org.uk for more info
SET UPONStephanie Corley, centre, plays Ines, besieged by Ronan Busfield, Laura Margaret Smith, Rosalind Coad and Andrew McTaggart