Opera North’s witch’s curse proves a blessing in disguise

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FIRST performed in 2010 and then again last year, Opera North’s Ruddigore has been declared a ‘gem of a discovery.’

It tours once more, making its Edinburgh debut at the Festival Theatre this week, where the role of Robin Oakapple and Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd will alternate between original cast member, Australian baritone, Grant Doyle and David Stout, while Richard Burkhard returns as Sir Despard Murgatroyd, Richard Angas as Old Adam Goodheart and Heather Shipp as Mad Margaret.

Sung in English, the tale centres around Sir Despard Murgatroyd, a man under pressure. He has inherited a witch’s curse forcing him to commit a crime every day or die in agony. So it’s a huge relief when shy Robin Oakapple is revealed as his long-lost elder brother – true inheritor of the curse. But what will Rose Maybud, Robin’s fiancée, make of this dastardly revelation?

A witty Victorian melodrama, the operetta is the tenth of the 14 comic operas written by Gilbert and Sullivan. Premiered in London on 22 January 1887, it wasn’t an instant hit, however. Its predecessor, The Mikado, had proved far more popular.

Over time, and with a few tweeks along the way, Ruddigore has since become recognised as one of the pair’s most inventive works.

Ruddigore, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, tonight-Saturday, 7.30pm (Saturday matinee 2.15pm), £22-£39.50, www.fctt.org.uk