NEWS: Scottish Opera announce a stunning season 16/17 featuring La bohème and Figaro

In a rich and diverse 2016/17 Season, the first to be announced since Stuart Stratford formally took up the post as Music Director, Scottish Opera continues to develop its strong creative relationships and partnerships, presenting seven fully staged productions and four operas in concert.

Highlights include:

  • New productions of Pelléas and Mélisande, Bluebeard’s Castle, La bohème and The Elixir of Love
  • Sir Thomas Allen’s hit production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro opens the Season
  • World premiere of The 8th Door, a specially devised ‘prequel’ to Bluebeard’s Castle created by Vanishing Point’s Matthew Lenton and Scottish Opera Composer in Residence Lliam Paterson
  • Scottish premieres of Philip Glass’s The Trial and Giacomo Puccini’s Le Villi
  • Four operas in concert presented in The Sunday Series at Theatre Royal Glasgow, featuring early and rarely-performed works by masters of operatic writing
  • Renowned director Sir David McVicar and director/designer team Renaud Doucet and André Barbe return
  • Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love – in a new arrangement for an orchestral quintet – tours to 17 venues around Scotland and Opera Highlights takes to 38 the total number of venues visited

Alex Reedijk, General Director said: ‘There is a wonderful variety of work on offer for audiences this season. We take great pride in the fact that we have built on the successes of the past by reviving a hit production, but also continue to create new work for the 21st century. It is thrilling that directors such as Sir Thomas Allen and Sir David McVicar are returning to work with us, alongside the visionary Matthew Lenton, who is making his operatic directorial debut in a Scottish Opera and Vanishing Point co-production. Young musical talent is also being nurtured with the launch of our Opera Sparks 2018 competition.’

Stuart Stratford, Music Director, added: ‘I am delighted as Music Director to present opera to audiences all over Scotland. I have been very involved in the casting of the programme, and there are some incredible talents – from Scotland as well as around the world – taking to the stage. The Sunday Series programme promises to introduce audiences to lesser-known works by composers including Debussy and Rossini, and we believe our performance of Puccini’s Le Villi will be a Scottish premiere. I’m excited also to have the opportunity to travel Scotland conducting The Elixir of Love, taking the company’s passion for music to all corners of the country.’

General Director Alex Reedijk and Music Director Stuart Stratford. Scottish Opera 2016. Credit James Glossop.

Opening the Season is Sir Thomas Allen’s staging of The Marriage of Figaro, a revival of his 2010 interpretation of Mozart’s masterpiece. Beautiful period designs by Simon Higlett provide the backdrop to this timeless comedy of social revolution and change. Renowned director Sir David McVicar directs a new production of Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande, and is joined by Rae Smith and Paule Constable, the design team behind War Horse, and Music Director Stuart Stratford, who conducts. In a new co-production between Scottish Opera and internationally acclaimed Scottish theatre company Vanishing Point, comes Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Directed by Vanishing Point’s founder Matthew Lenton, it is presented in a double-bill with a new piece of music theatre, which he also directs and has co-created with Scottish Opera Composer in Residence, Lliam Paterson. Entitled The 8th Door, it is a fascinating prequel to Bluebeard’s disturbing story. Director Renaud Doucet and designer André Barbe, the team behind 2014’s Don Pasquale, return with a new production of Puccini’s classic La bohème, inspired by the Jazz Age of Josephine Baker.

In another co-commission with Music Theatre Wales, following on from the success of 2016’s The Devil Inside, Scottish Opera gives the Scottish premiere of Philip Glass’s The Trial, based on Kafka’s nightmarish novel. Directed by Michael McCarthy, it was created by Glass in collaboration with Christopher Hampton, who won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1989 for Dangerous Liaisons.

Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love tours to 17 smaller Scottish venues in the Autumn, with Stuart Stratford and Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark sharing conducting duties in a new arrangement for five players from The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, who accompany a cast of soloists and a small chorus. The popular Opera Highlights – featuring four singers and a pianist – also travels around the country with a cast of fresh young talent, including two Scottish Opera Emerging Artists.

Following the sell-out success of previous years’ operas in concert and the popularity of the Sunday afternoon concerts, this Season’s The Sunday Series features performances of early and lesser-known works by masters of operatic writing with The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and world-class guest singers. Curated by Music Director Stuart Stratford, these performances at Theatre Royal Glasgow complement the Season’s staged productions and include Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz, Debussy’sL’enfant prodigue, Rossini’s La scala di seta, and Puccini’s Le Villi.

Scottish Opera welcomes back a talented array of conductors including Tobias Ringborg, Timothy Burke, David Parry and Sian Edwards. Starring in the title role of The Marriage of Figaro is Ben McAteer, a former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist, who received critical and audience acclaim for his role in The Devil Inside (2016). He is joined on stage by two Jette Parker Young Artists, Samuel Dale Johnson and Anna Devin, and by Scottish Opera favourite Donald Maxwell.  Pelléas and Mélisande sees soprano Carolyn Sampson (The Rake’s Progress 2012) and Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prizewinner Andrei Bondarenko take to the stage in the title roles while internationally in-demand stars Karen Cargill and Robert Hayward sing Judith and Bluebeard in Bluebeard’s Castle. La bohème has a similarly impressive cast with Hye-Youn Lee (Madama Butterfly 2014) starring as the fated Mimì and Luis Gomes, winner of 2015’s Grand Prize at the Verbier Festival Academy and a Covent Garden regular, as Rodolfo.

The Trial boasts a superb ensemble cast including Nicholas Lester (Don Pasquale 2014), Paul Carey Jones (Inés de Castro 2015) and three of Scottish Opera’s 2016/17 Emerging Artists, whilst The Elixir of Love cast includes Ellie Laugharne (The Pirates of Penzance 2013), Welsh tenor Elgan Llyr Thomas, winner of 2015’s coveted Stuart Burrows International Voice Award, and baritone James Cleverton.

The Scottish Opera Emerging Artists programme once again nurtures young operatic talent offering a period of full-time work with the Company to help launch their careers. This year’s artists include soprano Hazel McBain, mezzo-soprano Emma Kerr, tenor Elgan Llyr Thomas, director Jim Manganello and composer Lliam Paterson. Audiences will have the opportunity to see the Emerging Artist singers perform at two recitals during the year in Glasgow.

Young opera lovers and families have plenty to look forward to with the world premiere of The Little White Town of Never Weary, an interactive musical adventure for children aged five to eight, inspired by the Jessie M. King book of the same name. It makes an extensive schools tour as well as public performances in Kirkcudbright and Glenrothes. There is also the chance to catch performances of Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley and Der Jasager, and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas by Scottish Opera Connect, Scotland’s only youth opera company.

There is an opportunity for young composers and librettists to write for the Connect Company in Opera Sparks 2018, a new competition for people aged 26 and under to create a 15-minute opera to be performed during the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People 2018.

Audiences can get even more involved with the Company’s productions through the Pop-Up Opera Roadshow, Primary Schools Tour and the Community Choir, which is open to adults of all ages who wish to enjoy singing in a multitude of musical genres. The Memory Spinners group, for people with dementia and their carers, continues to meet weekly in Glasgow and is also being introduced in Edinburgh. Pre-show talks, where audiences can find out more about the opera they are seeing, will once again be on offer as well as Opera Unwrapped, free one-hour tasters delving further into the shows and how they are created.