NEWS: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland announces new season of captivating performance

From internationally renowned soloists to passionate, political operas, a journey through Shakespeare’s classics and one of the most acclaimed musicals of our time, the New Year bursts into life with an exciting season of performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Scotland’s national conservatoire raises the curtain on more than 100 events between January and March with bold, creative programming which showcases the artistry of its students, staff and a glittering array of visiting artists.

Among the artistic highlights awaiting Royal Conservatoire audiences is a laugh-out-loud opera double bill featuring Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias, two standout productions which exude robust humour at almost every turn while shining a light on greed, debauchery and timely issues like the empowerment of women.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason is one of the brightest stars in the classical music scene, having played to an audience of millions at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The former BBC Young Musician of the Year opens the BBC Radio 3 and RCS Cello Festival. Meanwhile, innovation is at the heart of Into the New which sees Contemporary Performance Practice students challenge perceptions, personal and creative boundaries during this striking festival of devised work.

Consistently ranked in the world’s top ten institutions for performing arts education (QS Rankings 2016-2018), the Royal Conservatoire is also a busy arts venue, hosting more than 600 public performances each year.

Highlights of the new season include:

  • Opera double bills: Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias are two of the most side-splitting operas in the repertoire.

Gianni Schicchi is the last opera Puccini completed, a dark comedy focusing on a family’s attempts to get hold of a dead relative’s money after it transpires his wealth has been left to a monastery. The family turns to Gianni Schicchi for help but things do not go as planned in Puccini’s opera, which includes one of the most famous arias of all time in O mio babbino caro.

Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias tells of the wife who changes sex in order to obtain power among men. Bored of her life as a housewife, Thérèse transforms into a man and embarks on the life and career she craves. Her husband, meanwhile, finds a way to bear children without women and manufactures 40,049 babies in one day. Though comic in nature, the opera explores serious themes like the empowerment of women and the need to repopulate a country after it has been ravaged by war.

Dido and Aeneas and Trouble in Tahiti follow in March, telling stories of regal love and a well-off, suburban couple who become inexplicably alienated from each other well before the age of social media.

  • Malcolm Martineau: A Life in Song: The longstanding partnership between Scotland’s national conservatoire and BBC Radio 3 enables RCS to bring world-renowned artists like Malcolm Martineau to the city. The celebrated pianist is joined by leading performers including tenor Nicky Spence, soprano Sally Matthews and internationally renowned baritone Thomas Oliemans in this series, supported by the Hilary Rosin Coffee Concerts.
  • Cello Festival: The Royal Conservatoire welcomes chart-topping cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason to open the BBC Radio 3 and RCS Cello Festival. Sheku, who provided the soundtrack to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in front of millions of people all over the world, is playing a key role in reaching new audiences for classical music. In demand with leading orchestras and concert halls worldwide, he is joined by Brazilian Antônio Meneses, award-winning Russian performer Anastasia Kobekina, one of Britain’s finest young string ensembles, the Maxwell Quartet, and principal cellist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Philip Higham.
  • Into the New: March sees the return of one of the most important contemporary performance festivals in Scotland. Into the New explores radical practice and identity through intimacy, memory and immersion. The 2019 festival showcases nine individual performances, all produced by students at Scotland’s national conservatoire.
  • Piano Festival: Celebrating ten years in 2019, the RCS Piano Festival engages world class artists, commissioning new works for multiple piano ensembles while creating exciting interdisciplinary collaborations showcasing the extraordinary talents of the RCS keyboard department.
  • Drama: A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Shakespeare’s story of illusion, mischief and transformation, celebrating the creative and often destructive power of love. BA Acting students take centre stage in this production, directed by Ali de Souza.
  • Musical Theatre: Sunday in the Park with George: Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s soaring masterpiece merges past and present into poignant truths about love, passion and the creation of art. The production is set in the days running up to the completion of a painting. Painter George is struggling to find his artistic voice and maintain a relationship. A century later, his descendant (also George) is burnt out and in search of an artistic path – finding the answer not in the present, but the past.
  • Talks: Arts in Justice lecturer Jess Thorpe explores the potential of devised theatre as a radical act of community and a vehicle for dialogue and connection in the context of incarceration.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “With a new year comes an exciting new season of performance at Scotland’s national conservatoire.

“I look forward to welcoming you to support our emerging professionals as they take to the stage, honing their artistic practice as they prepare to become the next generation of leaders in the performing and production arts.”

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is committed to making its performances accessible to as many people as possible with shows that are relaxed, captioned, British Sign Language interpreted and audio described. For D/deaf and hard of hearing patrons, the Deaf Theatre Club offers tickets for any accessible performance for £5. Concession prices are available and the Tickets26 initiative gives those under 26 access to any performance for just £5 (conditions apply).

Tickets are on sale now. Visit rcs.ac.uk/boxoffice for details.