Robert Schumann’s tale of a fairy-like creature’s quest to enter paradise opened an “Oriental-themed” Edinburgh International Festival this weekend to the acclaim of the critics.
Festival Director Jonathan Mills told Reuters he chose Schumann’s oratorio “Das Paradies und die Peri” (Paradise and the Peri) for Friday night’s opening concert “because it is a lovely piece of European Orientalism.” This year’s month-long arts festival in the Scottish capital aims to bring the “Orient to the Far West”. Most of the major stage productions in the 2011 program are from Asia, including three interpretations of William Shakespeare from South Korea and China.
The Schumann oratorio, based on a poem by early 19th century Irish writer Thomas Moore, tells the story of the efforts of a peri, a fairy-like creature, to enter paradise. It takes the peri’s quest through India, Africa, Syria and Egypt, and was one of Schumann’s most acclaimed works when it first appeared in 1843. It is now rarely performed.
Sir Robert Norrington conducted the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Soprano Susan Gritton sand the role of the peri.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.