NEWS: Scottish Opera announces new season

Scottish Opera has unveiled its 2017/18 Season which includes a world premiere, a Scottish premiere, four new productions and appearances at the Edinburgh International Festival, Manchester International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

A truly international line-up of singers appears throughout the Season with Gulnara Shafigullina, Anush Hovhannisyan, Peter Gijsbertsen, Victoria Simmonds, James Laing, Mardi Byers, Kor-Jan Dusseljee, Emily Edmonds, Susan Bullock, Allison Cook and Jamie MacDougall making their Scottish Opera debuts. There are also welcome return visits from the great British baritone Sir Thomas Allen, Stephen Gadd, Stephanie Corley, Natalya Romaniw, Peter Auty, Samuel Dale Johnson, Graeme Broadbent and Marie McLaughlin, and from former Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Jennifer France, shortlisted in the Young Singer category of the 2017 International Opera Awards, and Sioned Gwen Davies, who represents Wales at this year’s Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Opening the new Season in October is Verdi’s La traviata, set in Paris during the 1880s. This revival of the 2008 production by Sir David McVicar, who wowed audiences and critics alike earlier this year with Pelléas and Mélisande, is conducted by David Parry (Carmen 2016). The role of Violetta is shared by Russian-Dutch soprano Gulnara Shafigullina, who recently sang the role at St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre, and Anush Hovhannisyan, who represents Armenia at this year’s Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Dutch tenor Peter Gijsbertsen is Alfredo, British baritone Stephen Gadd is Giorgio and three of Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists 2017/18, Laura Zigmantaite, Alex Otterburn and Catherine Backhouse, also take leading roles. The performance on 28 November will coincide with the 150th anniversary of the opening of Theatre Royal Glasgow. There will also be two Dementia Friendly performances of La traviata in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Jonathan Dove’s hugely popular modern opera Flight – inspired by the true story of a refugee stranded at an airport – receives its Scottish professional premiere in February 2018. Music Director Stuart Stratford conducts a superb ensemble cast including Jennifer France (Ariodante 2016), Victoria Simmonds and James Laing, all reprising their highly-praised roles in the Opera Holland Park production, alongside Stephanie Corley (Inés de Castro 2015), Graeme Broadbent and Marie McLaughlin (The Marriage of Figaro 2016), and former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Sioned Gwen Davies (The Mikado 2016).

Ariadne auf Naxos, by Richard Strauss, is designed and directed by Antony McDonald, last at Scottish Opera in 2016 with his five-star staging of Rusalka. This playful opera is conducted by Brad Cohen, Music Director of Western Australia Opera. The international cast includes American soprano Mardi Byers, making her first appearance in the UK, Dutch tenor Kor-Jan Dusseljee, and Jette Parker Young Artist Emily Edmonds. Legendary British baritone and Scottish Opera Music Advisor Sir Thomas Allen, who directed 2016’s The Marriage of Figaro, is the Music Master and Scottish tenor and BBC broadcaster Jamie MacDougall is the Dancing Master. Following performances in Scotland, Ariadne auf Naxos will be presented at Investec Opera Holland Park in Summer 2018.

A new production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is directed by Oliver Mears (who recently took up post as Director of Opera at Royal Opera House), with Stuart Stratford conducting. This great masterpiece of Russian repertoire, based on Pushkin’s classic novel, has not been performed on Scottish Opera’s main stage since 1993. Samuel Dale Johnson (The Marriage of Figaro 2016) takes the title role and Natayla Romaniw (Rusalka 2016) is Tatyana. They are joined by Peter Auty (L’amico Fritz 2016) and Sioned Gwen Davies.

Building on its success in the 2016/17 Season, The Sunday Series takes as its inspiration the new production of Eugene Onegin and Stuart Stratford’s love for, and expertise in, Russian music, focusing on rarely-performed operas from Russia. Featuring The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and a fabulous line-up of guest soloists, the Series includes three concerts at Theatre Royal Glasgow and one at City Halls.

The Series opens in October at Theatre Royal Glasgow with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s last opera Iolanta conducted by Stuart Stratford. Originally premiered alongside The Nutcracker, it is rarely heard outside Russia. Stuart also takes the baton for the closing concert of the Series which features two operas by Rachmaninov – the first-ever performances of the composer’s work on the Scottish Opera stage. Adapted from a poem by Pushkin, Aleko was Rachmaninov’s first opera. It is paired with the Scottish premiere of Francesca da Rimini, which draws its plot from Dante’s Inferno.

December’s concert sees Scottish Opera collaborating with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in a performance of Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel. Conducted by Mikhail Agrest, resident for many years at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, the performing forces include Masters students from the Alexander Gibson Opera School and student instrumentalists from the Royal Conservatoire performing alongside professional soloists and The Orchestra of Scottish Opera.

Scottish Opera hosts a week-long residency for students of the London-based National Opera Studio, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this Season. It culminates with February’s From Russia with Love, a semi-staged performance of Russian-themed repertoire, conducted by Stuart Stratford.

Scottish Opera and Opera Ventures, a new charity founded by John Berry CBE to commission and produce opera and mixed media performances, are working together on a new co-production of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s anarchic opera, Greek.  This modern re-telling of the Oedipus myth, based on the play by Steven Berkoff, is directed by Young Vic Artistic Associate Joe Hill-Gibbins and will premiere at the opening weekend of the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival as part of its 70th anniversary celebrations, with further performances in Glasgow in February 2018. The cast of Greek includes British singers Susan Bullock, Allison Cook, Andrew Shore (The Mikado 2016) and Alex Otterburn, winner of an International Opera Award bursary and a Scottish Opera Emerging Artist 2017/18.

(Amateur singers and circus performers have the chance to take part in an exciting new production of Pagliacci (The Clowns) by Ruggero Leoncavallo in Summer 2018. Bill Bankes-Jones, founder of Tête à Tête opera company, directs a company of nearly 200, including The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, international soloists, a professional and community chorus and both professional and amateur circus performers in this ‘blood and guts’ tale about a wretched clown. Specially created to be staged outwith Scottish Opera’s usual theatre venues in a ‘circus’ tent, this landmark new production is conducted by Music Director Stuart Stratford. Recruitment for participants in the production is underway – full details will be available at Scottish Opera’s website.

Scottish Opera Composer in Residence Lliam Paterson’s BambinO, an opera for babies, has its world premiere at Manchester International Festival this Summer. A new co-commission and co-production between Scottish Opera, Manchester International Festival and Improbable, this pioneering piece of music theatre is aimed at infants aged 6 to 18 months. Directed by Improbable’s Phelim McDermott, babies are free to explore and interact with the singers, musicians and each other during the performance. The production will also be presented at Edinburgh Academy during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2017 and at Scottish Opera’s Production Studios in Glasgow in the Autumn.

The ever-popular Opera Highlights tour visits even more venues around Scotland this Season, stretching from Stranraer to Shetland, with dates in both Autumn and Spring. Scottish Opera Emerging Artists and recent graduates of the National Opera Studio are amongst the casts that will take to the road with former Emerging Artist Jack Furness directing. These performances are supported by the Friends of Scottish Opera.

Pop-up Opera takes both to the road – in Scottish Opera’s specially-adapted, fully accessible trailer at festivals and events around Scotland – and to the waves in Scotland’s first floating opera house, the converted pilot cutter Murray McDavid kindly provided by Murray McDavid Scotch Whisky. The public performances on and from the Murray McDavid will be complemented with special shows for schools in marinas down the Clyde, enabling Scottish Opera to extend its reach into communities it has not previously visited. Pop-up audiences can catch three shows this year; A Little Bit of La bohème, A Little Bit of The Pirates of Penzance and A Little Bit of Bubble McBea, for kids aged three to seven. Each performance is 25 minutes long and brought to life by a cast of narrators, singers and instrumentalists.

Opera Unwrapped performances offer a one-hour opera taster, ideal for anyone curious to learn more about the art form, how a show is created or some backstage secrets. There are Unwrapped performances for the productions of La traviata, Flight, Ariadne auf Naxos and Eugene Onegin. Audiences can also find out more about the opera they are seeing in pre-show talks. People with a visual impairment can enjoy the full opera experience at audio-described performances, where a live commentary describes the action on stage without compromising the music.

Following the performances of The Marriage of Figaro (2016) and La bohème (2017), there will be two Dementia Friendly performances of La traviata in Glasgow and Edinburgh. This fully-staged, shortened version of the show features narrator Allan Dunn, The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and a cast of singers. Lighting levels in the auditorium are adjusted and audiences are able to come in and out of the auditorium or watch in the bar on TV screens if they prefer.

Memory Spinners, the group for people living with dementia and their carers that helps them relax and get creative using music, storytelling, movement and the visual arts, continues to meet weekly in Glasgow and Edinburgh.


La traviata

Theatre Royal Glasgow
19, 25, 28 Oct | 28, 30 Nov | 2 Dec 7.15pm
22 Oct 3pm
Dementia Friendly performance 24 Oct, 3pm

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
2, 4 Nov 7.15pm

Eden Court, Inverness
7, 9, 11 Nov 7.15pm

Festival Theatre Edinburgh
15, 21, 23, 25 Nov 7.15pm
19 Nov 3pm
Dementia Friendly performance 17 Nov, 3pm


Theatre Royal Glasgow
17, 21, 24 Feb 7.15pm

Festival Theatre Edinburgh
1, 3 Mar 7.15pm

Ariadne auf Naxos

Theatre Royal Glasgow
22, 24, 28 Mar 7.15pm

Festival Theatre Edinburgh
5, 7 April 7.15pm

Eugene Onegin

Theatre Royal Glasgow
27 Apr, 3, 5 May 7.15pm
29 Apr 3pm

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
10, 12 May 7.15pm

Eden Court, Inverness
15, 17, 19 May 7.15pm

Festival Theatre Edinburgh
23, 26, 29, 31 May 7.15pm


Festival Theatre Edinburgh
Part of Edinburgh International Festival
5 Aug 7.15pm
6 Aug 5pm

Theatre Royal Glasgow
2, 3 Feb 7.15pm

Pagliacci (The Clowns)

June 2018 – dates to be announced

The Sunday Series: Opera in Concert
Theatre Royal Glasgow 29 Oct 3pm

The Fiery Angel
City Halls Glasgow 3 Dec 3pm

From Russia with Love
Theatre Royal Glasgow 25 Feb 3pm

Aleko and Francesca da Rimini
Theatre Royal Glasgow 6 May 3pm

Opera Highlights

Autumn 2017
21 Sep to 28 Oct | Touring to Musselburgh, Markinch, Arisaig, Portree, Stornoway, Lochinver, Carrbridge, Findhorn, Cove, Peebles, Stranraer, Campbeltown, Bowmore, Benderloch, Langholm, Greenock & East Kilbride

Spring 2018
6 Feb to 10 Mar | Touring to Livingston, Hawick, Callander, Midmar, Halkirk, Kirkwall, Tain, Braemar, Montrose, Lerwick, Castle Douglas, Ballachulish, Pitlochry & Rutherglen


Pavilion Theatre, Manchester
Part of the Manchester International Festival
4 Jul 1.30pm (Preview)
5 Jul 10.30am and 1.30pm
(Further venues around Greater Manchester, 6 to 16 Jul, excl. Mon 10 Jul)

Edinburgh Academy
Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
8 to 20 Aug (excl. Mon 14 Aug)
10am & 11.30am

Scottish Opera Production Studios, Glasgow
21 Oct to 5 Nov (excl. Mon & Tue)
10am & 11.30am

Opera Sparks

14, 15 Apr 2018

Pop-up Opera

24 May to 1 Jul | Tour includes Perth Arts Festival, Mount Stuart Isle of Bute, Prestwick, Girvan, Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, Riverside Museum Glasgow, Rhu Marina, James Watt Marina Greenock, Port Bannatyne Marina, Portavadie, Troon Yacht Haven, Clyde Marina Ardrossan, Largs Yacht Haven, Theatre Modo Peterhead, Pollok House Glasgow & Haddington Show

Emerging Artists Recitals

Fri 8 Dec, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Thu 11 Jan, University of Glasgow Concert Hall

Opera Unwrapped

La traviata Unwrapped
Glasgow Thu 26 Oct 6pm
Aberdeen Fri 3 Nov 6pm
Inverness Fri 10 Nov 6pm
Edinburgh Thu 16 Nov 6pm

Flight Unwrapped
Glasgow Mon 19 Feb 6pm
Edinburgh Fri 2 Mar 6pm

Ariadne auf Naxos Unwrapped
Glasgow Mon 26 Mar 6pm
Edinburgh Fri 6 Apr 6pm

Eugene Onegin Unwrapped
Glasgow Wed 2 May 6pm
Aberdeen Fri 11 May 6pm
Inverness Fri 18 May 6pm
Edinburgh Thu 24 May 6pm
Pre-show talks

La traviata
Glasgow Sat 28 Oct 6pm
Aberdeen Sat 4 Nov 6pm
Inverness Sat11 Nov 6pm
Edinburgh Sat 25 Nov 6pm

Glasgow Sat 24 Feb 6pm
Edinburgh Sat 3 Mar 6pm

Ariadne auf Naxos
Glasgow Sat 24 Mar 6pm
Edinburgh Sat 7 Apr 6pm

Eugene Onegin
Glasgow Sat 5 May 6pm
Aberdeen Sat 12 May 6pm
Inverness Sat 19 May 6pm
Edinburgh Sat 26 May 6pm

Audio-described performances

Edinburgh Sun 6 Aug 5pm (Touch Tour 3.45pm)
Glasgow Sat 3 Feb 7.15pm

La traviata
Glasgow Sat 28 Oct 7.15pm
Aberdeen Sat 4 Nov 7.15pm
Inverness Sat 11 Nov 7.15pm
Edinburgh Sun 19 Nov 3pm

Glasgow Sat 24 Feb 7.15pm
Edinburgh Sat 3 Mar 7.15pm

Ariadne auf Naxos
Glasgow Wed 28 Mar 7.15pm
Edinburgh Sat 7 Apr 7.15pm

Eugene Onegin
Glasgow Sat 5 May 7.15pm
Aberdeen Sat 12 May 7.15pm
Inverness Sat 19 May 7.15pm
Edinburgh Thu 31 May 7.15pm

Touch Tours start at 6pm for evening performances and 1.45pm for matinees.

Images: James Glossop