Paisley has been chosen as the site for Scottish Opera’s production of Ruggero Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci (The Clowns) in July 2018. The performances will take place at the city’s Seedhill Playing Fields in a huge tented structure, and Scottish Opera is inviting local people from across Renfrewshire and beyond to be part of the performing company of up to two hundred.
Pagliacci tells the story of Canio, the leader of a troupe of travelling players, who discovers his wife Nedda is having an affair. His jealousy erupts before an unsuspecting audience, as the play-within-a-play takes a tragic turn.
Scottish Opera’s Music Director Stuart Stratford will conduct and Bill Bankes-Jones, founder of Tête à Tête Opera, will direct the promenade production, which is being specially created to be staged outwith the walls of Scottish Opera’s usual theatre venues.
Open to everyone aged 16 and over who enjoys singing, dance or drama or who would like to learn a new skill, those interested are invited to attend one of four taster events at Scottish Opera’s Silver Cloud Studio in Hillington in November. No previous performance experience is needed and those who take part will be right in the middle of the action, performing alongside The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, international soloists and a professional chorus. The Company also wants to hear from existing theatrical, musical, gymnastic, cheer-leading or sporting groups to be part of the carnival-like setting which will be created for the show.
The November taster sessions will be followed by an introductory weekend in January and weekly rehearsals for the landmark immersive production will begin in early March. The performances of Pagliacci (The Clowns) will be on 26, 28 and 29 July in Paisley, which has been shortlisted for UK City of Culture in 2021.
Former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Nadine Livingston (La bohème, 2017) sings the role of Nedda. Making his Scottish Opera debut, Trinidadian tenor Ronald Samm will sing the role of her husband Canio. Robert Hayward (Bluebeard’s Castle, 2017) will return to the Scottish Opera stage as Tonio, the fool.
Stuart Stratford said: ‘Sometimes the best place to perform a piece is outside the theatre. An opera like Pagliacci is crying out for a different approach – I can’t think of a better way to present it, and to capture its energy, than with hundreds of performers from all walks of life.’
Alex Reedijk, Scottish Opera’s General Director said: ‘Since Stuart Stratford began his tenure at Scottish Opera as Music Director, he has been particularly keen to do a site-specific opera so I am thrilled we are coming to Paisley with what promises to be a spectacular production of Pagliacci. We are looking forward to getting local people involved in this exciting event – you don’t need to have any experience to take part, just lots of enthusiasm!’
Bill Bankes-Jones added: ‘I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of this pioneering project, and can’t think of anywhere better than Paisley to stage Pagliacci in conjunction with the formidable forces of Scottish Opera. Creating a world where some performers visit a community mid-festival will be magical in Paisley, with its huge cultural heritage and the wonderful Sma’ Shot Day to trigger our imaginations. I can’t wait to see how Paisley and Scottish Opera collaborate and inspire each other through this project.’
Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: ‘We are thrilled Scottish Opera is bringing this production to Paisley next year. Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 aims to bring some of the finest artists from Scotland and beyond to Paisley to work with our homegrown talent and for our local audiences to enjoy.
‘We have some fantastic choirs here in Paisley – at the last count there were 26 – and I am sure they will relish the chance to be part of this amazing production of one of the world’s best-loved operas. At the same time, we are excited at the chance to make use of a site which has never hosted anything of this kind – our bid aims to use every corner of Paisley to deliver the benefits of culture to those who stand to gain most, and this is a wonderful way to explore how that will work.’
Those who wish to find out more or take part in the production should contact Donna Macpherson: email@example.com or 0141 332 9559
Community Taster Sessions
Silver Cloud Studio, North Point, Unit 20, 37 Gordon Avenue, Hillington Park, G52 4TG
Mon 20 Nov, 7-9pm
Tue 21 Nov, 2-4pm
Wed 22 Nov, 7-9pm
Thu 23 Nov, 7-9pm
Seedhill Playing Fields, Paisley
Thu 26 July, 7pm
Sat 28 July, 7pm
Sun 29 July, 3pm