The Elephant Angel Press Reviews
‘If Scottish Opera’s Golden Jubilee year is recalled for anything, it should be this superb family show, written by Bernard MacLaverty and Gareth Williams…Involving local primary school children wherever it plays…and five singers from Scottish Opera’s Connect youth posse, with a seven-piece ensemble in the pit…it is a wonderful piece of heart-rending storytelling with an excellent score that embraces street game songs of earlier years but is still of the moment...There are just two professional singers: Paul Keohone, giving a carefully nuanced performance as the conflicted head zookeeper, and Marie Claire Breen, as lively as she is lovely, as the maverick Miss Austin, creating two adorable characters as she brings her relationship with the puppet elephant (occupied by Lewis Sherlock) to life. We have seen more lavish and exotic productions this year, but I know this one will live in my memory longer than most.’
***** The Herald
‘[The] Elephant Angel has lots of heart. The three singers fleshing out the [polar bear], tiger and lion are from Scottish Opera’s youth section, and showed real promise. The professionals playing the zookeeper (Paul Keohone), a kind of authority figure who couldn’t bend the rules in the name of compassion, and the wonderful Miss Austin (Marie Claire Breen) the lady zookeeper and heroine, were good. But the scene stealers were the children from Cave Hill Primary who acted and sang the young chorus with real enthusiasm…the orchestra under Gareth Williams conveyed the feeling in a score that was school of Benjamin Britten.’
**** The Belfast Telegraph
'This is opera made fresh, reminiscent of a range of children’s operas form Britten to Maxwell Davies, but given its own defining magnetism through music that blends a soft minimalist cocktail with lyricism. Williams conducted the small pit ensemble, and held the performance together splendidly.’
**** The Scotsman
‘In today’s world of sophisticated multimedia communication, for us in the audience and for the children taking part, this compelling true story told in one brilliant short hour brought home the reality of wartime in a unique, simple and moving way…This was a charming fable for all, and there was some fine singing, particularly from Miranda Sinani as Miss Austin, soaring high above the children’s choruses. At this performance, very ably directed by Lissa Lorenzo, 30 pupils of Eastern Primary School from Broughty Ferry sang and acted their hearts out…Choreography and movement were particularly strong, and puppeteer Lewis Sherlock in the elephant costume was remarkably elephant-like. In the pit, the lively, percussive seven-piece band (including a horn for elephant noises) was conducted by the composer [Gareth Williams]'