The banality of the airport departure lounge – a bland environment of bustle and tedium – seems an unlikely setting for an opera, but in Jonathan Dove’s Flight this humdrum environment becomes a microcosm of the human experience. Dove’s opera, featuring a pert libretto by April De Angelis, may be 20 years old yet this production by Scottish Opera resolutely shows it has stood the test of time. The premise is simple: an electrical storm grounds all flights forcing the passengers and crew to endure an uncomfortable night in the departure lounge, and not just physically. This is a long, dark night of the soul from which nobody emerges unchanged.
Flight is something of a passion play for our time, with the Christ-like figure of the Refugee, here sensitively portrayed by James Laing, at its centre. His separateness is given expression by the otherworldly timbre of the countertenor voice. Commenting on and overseeing the action is the icily celestial Controller, whose stratospheric vocal writing is deftly negotiated by soprano Jennifer France.
Stephen Barlow’s production, first performed at Opera Holland Park in 2015, is an economical staging that sticks to the original 1990s setting, with some nice visual gags. Scottish Opera’s strong cast revel in their roles. Marie McLaughlin plays a voluptuous lady of a certain age, while Peter Auty and Stephanie Corley portray a hapless couple trying to rekindle a romantic spark; Victoria Simmonds is the young woman trying to discover her place in the world. The switch from playful good humour to pathos is skilfully negotiated and conductor Stuart Stratford and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera serve up Dove’s colourful orchestra score with energy and precision.
• At Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 19 and 21-24 February.