Tag Archives: Opera

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA ANNOUNCES 2019/20 SEASON

Stuart Stratford, Scottish Opera Music Director and Alex Reedijk, General Director. Scottish Opera 2019

Scottish Opera has unveiled its 2019/20 Season which includes a European premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival, three further new productions, one revival, six titles in the Opera in Concert series, and the world premiere of a new ‘opera for toddlers’ at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

A truly international line-up of singers appears throughout the Season. Making their debuts with the Company are Trevor Eliot Bowes, Orla Boylan, Wallis Giunta, Eric Greene, Byron Jackson and Sydney Mancasola.

There are welcome return visits from Evez Abdulla, Mark Le Brocq, Richard Burkhard, Emma Carrington, Sioned Gwen Davies, Aidan Edwards, Jennifer France, Morten Grove Frandsen, Ric Furman, Justina Gringyte, Katie Grosset, Aled Hall, Hanna Hipp, Charlotte Hoather, Paul Carey Jones, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Ellie Laugharne, Jessica Leary, Hye-Youn Lee, Nicholas Lester, Jamie MacDougall, Ben McAteer, William Morgan, Lancelot Nomura, Clare Presland, Sarah Pring, Daniel Keating-Roberts, Duncan Rock, Natalya Romaniw, David Shipley, Michel de Souza, Julia Sporsén, David Stout, Richard Suart, Elgan Llŷr Thomas, Freddie Tong, Sinéad Campbell-Wallace, Roland Wood and Dingle Yandell.

Alex Reedijk, General Director, said: ‘This Season, Scottish Opera brings a diverse range of titles, including 12 operas, to audiences in over 50 venues all over Scotland and beyond. From 20th century masterpieces by Benjamin Britten and John Adams to much-loved works by Gilbert & Sullivan and Puccini, and an intriguing Opera in Concert series curated by Music Director Stuart Stratford, there is a wonderful array of operatic fare.

‘Directing our full-scale productions are five great talents: Jonathan Cocker, who is reviving Anthony’s Besch’s iconic Tosca which opens the Season; John Fulljames; Dominic Hill; Tom Morris and Stuart Maunder. Creative partnerships are crucial to what we do, so it’s thrilling to be working alongside festivals, companies and opera houses locally, nationally and internationally. The Company is greatly looking forward to returning to the Lammermuir Festival, and to taking Missy Mazzoli’s sensational Breaking the Waves to the Edinburgh International Festival.

‘The ever-inventive Outreach and Education Department builds on the success of our work for young children with the world premiere of Fox-tot!, by the brilliant, young Scottish composer Lliam Paterson, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Scottish Opera Young Company returns to the stage with Sondheim; we present three Dementia Friendly performances as well as Spinning Songs and Memory Spinners workshops; and we tour Pop-up Opera, The Opera Factory and our Primary Schools Tour.’

Stuart Stratford, Scottish Opera Music Director, added: ‘We are committed to exploring some lesser known repertoire in our Opera in Concert performances, and I am delighted that we are continuing our Mascagni odyssey with a double bill of Zanetto, performed with Wolf- Ferrari’s Susanna’s Secret. Mascagni’s Iris is also not to be missed, and the series comes full circle to finish with Cavalleria rusticana, the piece that catapulted Mascagni to success. It is paired with Leoncavallo’s Zingari. Another rarity can be heard in our semi-staged performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Utopia, Limited, which stands alongside our new touring production of The Gondoliers.

‘I am thrilled our new Season gets underway at the Edinburgh International Festival with the European premiere of Breaking the Waves by the exciting American composer, Missy Mazzoli. Nixon in China is another modern American classic. It still resonates with today’s global politics, and it changed the rulebook of what contemporary opera could be. John Adams’ soundworld continues to influence generations of new composers. Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream completes our trio of work from the 20th and 21st centuries, with a new staging by Citizens Theatre Artistic Director, Dominic Hill.’

Season 2019/20 Productions

Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves has its European premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival in August.

Tony Award-winning Tom Morris, Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic, whose previous work includes War HorseTouching the Void, and The Death of Klinghoffer at English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, New York, directs this dark and daring opera. Set and costume designs are by Soutra Gilmour.

Based on Lars von Trier’s award-winning film, Mazzoli’s opera caused a sensation when it premiered in 2016, winning the 2017 Best New Opera Award from the Music Critics Association of North America. It was also shortlisted for an International Opera Award.

The opera, with a libretto by Royce Vavrek, tells the story of Bess, a young woman living in a deeply religious community in the Scottish Highlands in the 1970s. The cast includes American soprano Sydney Mancasola, Edinburgh-born baritone Duncan Rock and Irish-Canadian mezzo Wallis Giunta, winner of the 2018 International Opera Awards’ Young Singer of the Year. Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford conducts.

Co-presented by Opera Ventures, Scottish Opera and Edinburgh International Festival, Breaking the Waves is a co-production with Opera Ventures and Houston Grand Opera, in association with Bristol Old Vic. It has been made possible with support from Howard and Sarah Solomon Foundation, Denise Coates Foundation, Karl Sydow, Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and a syndicate of donors.

Puccini’s Tosca, in a production originally directed by Anthony Besch and designed by Peter Rice in 1980, opens Scottish Opera’s main season in October.  Set in 1940s Rome, in the shadow of Mussolini’s dictatorship, this ill-fated romance plays out against a backdrop of political corruption and intrigue. Revived by director Jonathan Cocker and conducted by Stuart Stratford, this much-loved production stars Natalya Romaniw (Eugene Onegin 2018) in the title role, Gwyn Hughes Jones (Il trovatore 2015) as Cavaradossi and Roland Wood (Pelléas & Mélisande 2017) as Scarpia. Tosca is supported by The Scottish Opera Syndicate.

In February, John Fulljames, Director of Opera at The Royal Danish Theatre, directs John Adams’ iconic opera, Nixon in China, inspired by President Richard Nixon’s much-publicised 1972 visit to Communist China. A Scottish Opera premiere, this is a new co-production with The Royal Danish Theatre and Teatro Real Madrid.

Acclaimed Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro leads an exciting cast including Eric Greene as Richard Nixon; Julia Sporsén (Ariadne auf Naxos 2018); Mark Le Brocq (Anthropocene 2019); Nicholas Lester (The Trial 2017) and Hye-Youn Lee (La bohème 2017). The libretto is by Alice Goodman and the designer is Dick Bird (The Mikado 2016).

Dominic Hill, Artistic Director of the Citizens Theatre, returns to Scottish Opera to direct Benjamin Britten’s atmospheric A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is joined by designer Tom Piper, famed for the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London. Stuart Stratford conducts a cast that includes David Shipley (Rigoletto 2018), a recent graduate of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme; countertenor Morten Grove Frandsen, a winner of Denmark’s Reumert Talent prize; former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Jennifer France (Anthropocene 2019); and Scottish tenor and BBC broadcaster Jamie MacDougall (Ariadne auf Naxos 2018).  Audiences also have the chance to see a new work by Scottish Opera Composer in Residence, Samuel Bordoli, titled Hermia’s Nightmare. Performed in the foyer before each show, it explores scenes from Shakespeare’s play that were not included by Britten in his score. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is supported by The Alexander Gibson Circle.

The 2019/20 Season closes with Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, directed by Stuart Maunder, Artistic Director at State Opera South Australia, and designed by Dick Bird (The Mikado 2016). The whimsical opera, in a new co-production with D’Oyly Carte Opera and State Opera South Australia, tells the story of two happy-go-lucky gondoliers who discover that one of them is, in fact, heir to the throne of a distant kingdom. Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark, conducts an ensemble cast that includes ENO Harewood Artist William Morgan (The Magic Flute 2019), Ellie Laugharne (The Pirates of Penzance 2013), Ben McAteer (The Mikado 2016), Sioned Gwen Davies (Rigoletto 2018) and G&S favourite Richard Suart (The Mikado 2016).  As well as performances in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh, The Gondoliers tours to London’s Hackney Empire. This production is supported by Scottish Opera’s ‘Play A Supporting Role’ Appeal.

Opera in Concert

Scottish Opera Music Director, Stuart Stratford, has once again curated a programme of rarely-performed works in this Season’s Opera in Concert series, supported by the Scottish Opera Endowment Trust and the Friends of Scottish Opera. The semi-staged performances explore further the verismo works of Pietro Mascagni and a lesser-known piece by Gilbert & Sullivan in several firsts for Scottish Opera, and for Scotland.

In September, the Company returns to the award-winning Lammermuir Festival in East Lothian with a double-bill of Mascagni’s Zanetto (a Scottish Opera premiere) and Susanna’s Secret by Wolf-Ferrari. Soloists including Sinéad Campbell-Wallace, Hanna Hipp (Kátya Kabanová 2019), Richard Burkhard (The Magic Flute 2019) and Clare Presland (Rusalka 2016) are conducted by David Parry (La traviata 2017), and directed by Rosie Purdie.

Performed in the beautiful, mediaeval St Mary’s Parish Church in Haddington, the venue for 2018’s Scottish Opera performance of The Burning Fiery Furnace, Zanetto is set in the hills above Renaissance Florence, and tells the story of Silvia, a lonely courtesan who has lost her faith in love, until she meets a wandering minstrel.

It is performed alongside the sophisticated and charming Susanna’s Secret, the perfect comedic contrast, in which a husband who smells smoke on his wife’s clothes accuses her of cheating.

In December, Opera in Concert features the Scottish Opera premiere of Mascagni’s Iris at City Halls, Glasgow. A gripping tale of innocence lost, Iris includes the stunning ‘Hymn to the Sun’, which is often hailed as the composer’s finest writing. Stuart Stratford conducts soloists including Ric Furman (Kátya Kabanová 2019), Natalya Romaniw (Eugene Onegin 2018) and Roland Wood (Pelléas and Mélisande 2017). Roxana Haines (Edgar 2018) directs.

The passionate and lyrical Cavalleria rusticana by Mascagni is performed in May 2020 at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. Telling the tale of a young Sicilian villager who returns from war to find his fiancée has married someone else, conductor Stuart Stratford has chosen to pair it with Leoncavallo’s lesser-known work Zingari, another Scottish Opera premiere. With a parallel narrative that sees another love triangle go disastrously wrong, Zingari is based on Pushkin’s The Gypsies. Orpha Phelan directs soloists including Evez Abdulla, Justina Gringyte and Julia Sporsén.

The Opera in Concert series ends with a semi-staged performance of Utopia, Limited. A new co-production with D’Oyly Carte Opera and State Opera South Australia, this Scottish Opera premiere has an updated libretto by director Stuart Maunder, and a new musical version by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark, who also conducts. Wittily satirising the British Empire’s politics, monarchy and press, Gilbert & Sullivan’s penultimate opera is performed by the cast of The Gondoliers, and designed by Dick Bird. Utopia, Limited tours to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Hackney Empire in London.

Opera Highlights

Supported by the Friends of Scottish Opera, the ever-popular Opera Highlights goes on the road again this Season, visiting 34 venues around Scotland from Stonehaven to Stranraer, in Autumn 2019 and Spring 2020. The varied programme of music curated by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark, sees four singers and a pianist perform works by Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Gilbert & Sullivan, and a new piece by Scottish Opera Composer in Residence Samuel Bordoli.

Roxana Haines (Edgar 2018) directs two different casts of exciting new talent including Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists for 2019/20 – soprano Charlie Drummond, former young artist at the National Opera Studio; baritone Mark Nathan, recent graduate from the Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; and baritone Arthur Bruce, a former member of the Scottish Opera Young Company also recently graduated from the RCS Opera School.

Fox-tot! – an opera for toddlers

The world premiere of Fox-tot!, a new opera for toddlers aged one to two, is presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer. It has been written by Lliam Paterson, composer of the acclaimed BambinO, which last year toured to Paris and New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and is directed by Roxana Haines (Edgar 2018).

For this new Scottish Opera co-commission with Royal & Derngate, Northampton, Lliam has taken inspiration from French baroque dances and contemporary opera. A little fox goes on an adventure to explore the world and learn to see through the eyes of other creatures. Stretched out in the sun as a cat, soaring in the sky as a butterfly, it’s fun to be someone else. But, as Mother Vixen guides her cub’s journey, will the little one discover what it takes to become an excellent fox?

Designed by Giuseppe Belli and Emma Belli (BambinO 2017), the 45-minute show is an engaging mix of music and puppetry, performed by mezzo-soprano and former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Katie Grosset (The Opera Factory 2018), and countertenor Daniel Keating-Roberts (The 8th Door 2017). They are joined by cellist Laura Sergeant and percussionist Michael D Clark, who both performed in BambinO.

Following the Edinburgh Festival Fringe dates at Edinburgh Academy, Fox-tot! tours to Royal and Derngate, Northampton in August and September, and around Scotland in Spring 2020.

Fox-tot! is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels, New Commissions Circle and using public funding by Arts Council England.

Scottish Opera Young Company

Scottish Opera Young Company, for 17 to 25 year olds, will perform Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along in Glasgow in the Spring of 2020. Young Company Artistic Director Jonathon Swinard conducts Sondheim’s multi-Olivier Award-winning work, which was specifically written for young adult voices. A dark tale of ambition and disillusion, it tells the story of Franklin Shepard whose career has seen him go from penniless composer to Hollywood impresario. Merrily We Roll Along is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

Pop-up Opera

Three brilliant Pop-up Opera shows hit the road this summer in Scottish Opera’s specially adapted trailer at festivals and events around Scotland: A Little Bit of Iolanthe (supported by The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust), A Little Bit of Magic Flute, and Puffy McPuffer and The Crabbit Canals, for five to eight year olds. Each performance is 25 minutes long and brought to life by storyteller Ross Stenhouse, sopranos Jessica Leary and Charlotte Hoather, baritone Aidan Edwards, instrumentalists and colourful illustrations. The tour includes Perth Festival of the Arts, Dunfermline, Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, Old Kilpatrick, Barrhead, Giffnock, Borders Book Festival, Dirleton, Callander, Cupar Arts EDEN, Aboyne & Deeside Festival, Haddington Show and Glasgow Canal Festival. Pop-up Opera is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

Emerging Artists

The Scottish Opera Emerging Artists programme, which offers young talent a period of full-time work with the Company to help launch their careers, will this Season include soprano Charlie Drummond, baritones Arthur Bruce and Mark Nathan, and Samuel Bordoli who continues as Composer in Residence. The name of a costume trainee and repetiteur are still to be announced.

Emerging Artist singers perform in a number of this Season’s productions and tours, and in recitals at the University of St Andrews, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and University of Glasgow, and are supported by The Robertson Trust, Elizabeth Salvesen and Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artist Benefactors.

Scottish Opera Education and Outreach

Amadeus & The Bard is an original piece, conceived, written and directed by Mary McCluskey, former Artistic Director of Scottish Youth Theatre. It explores the surprising number of parallels between Mozart and Scottish poet, Robert Burns.

Performed by Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Arthur Bruce, soprano and Samling Young Artist Stephanie Stanway and renowned actor Andy Clark, alongside a four-voice ensemble from the Scottish Opera Young Company, the programme is curated by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark. It celebrates the work of the two 18th-century Enlightenment giants, from the magical and mystical in The Magic Flute and Tam O’ Shanter to the love music of Don Giovanni and A Red, Red Rose. The Music Director and pianist is Karen MacIver, one half of award-winning duo PianoPiano.

Amadeus & The Bard tours this Autumn to Earlston, Kirkcudbright, Annan, Cumnock, Ayr, Largs, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paisley. It is supported by Edith Rudinger Gray Charitable Trust and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

In the Spring and Summer of 2020, the ever-popular Primary Schools Tour, for children in primaries five to seven, revives Warriors! The Emperor’s Incredible Army. It offers kids the chance to participate in high quality, day-long music theatre workshops, culminating in a performance for parents and guests. Commissioned in partnership with the five Scottish Confucius Institutes, music is by Alan Penman with words by Ross Stenhouse.

The Opera Factory, written and presented by Allan Dunn, returns this summer. Primary 3 pupils go on a whirlwind music adventure to find out how opera is made. The production is supported by online resources designed to reinforce key learning outcomes of A Curriculum for Excellence for Level 1.

Scottish Opera’s Community Choir, open to adults of all ages and conducted by Katy Lavinia Cooper, starts up again in September. The choir sings a mixture of opera, classical, popular, folk and world music, and meets every Wednesday at Theatre Royal Glasgow.

Dementia Friendly

There will be three Dementia Friendly performances of Tosca, in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. This fully-staged, shortened version of the show features presenter 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.  Scottish Opera staged the UK’s first Dementia Friendly opera performance in November 2016, with The Marriage of Figaro at Festival Theatre Edinburgh.

Memory Spinners, shortlisted in the Best Community Initiative category of Scotland’s Dementia Awards 2017, continues to meet weekly in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Airdrie. The groups – for people living with dementia and their carers – help them relax and get creative using music, storytelling, movement and the visual arts.

Weekly Spinning Songs in East Kilbride and Edinburgh are also taking place. This new intergenerational project for pre-school and primary children and elderly people helps participants develop their musical and expressive arts skills to create original songs that reflect life in their local communities.

Insights into opera

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 of Tosca, Nixon in China and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 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.

Breaking the Waves (Missy Mazzoli)

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh (Part of the Edinburgh International Festival)

21, 23, 24 Aug 2019, 7.15pm

 

Tosca (Puccini)

Theatre Royal Glasgow

16, 18, 22, 26 Oct 2019, 7.15pm
20 Oct 2019, 3pm
Dementia Friendly Performance 24 Oct 2019, 3pm

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen                                       

31 Oct | 2 Nov 2019, 7.15pm
Dementia Friendly Performance 1 Nov 2019, 3pm

Eden Court, Inverness

5, 7, 9 Nov 2019, 7.15pm

Festival Theatre Edinburgh

14, 21, 23 Nov 2019, 7.15pm
17 Nov 2019, 3pm
Dementia Friendly Performance 19 Nov 2019, 3pm

 

Nixon in China (John Adams)

Theatre Royal Glasgow

18, 20, 22 Feb 2020, 7.15pm

Festival Theatre Edinburgh

27, 29 Feb 2019, 7.15pm

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Benjamin Britten)

Festival Theatre Edinburgh

31 Mar | 2, 4 Apr 2020, 7.15pm

Theatre Royal Glasgow

21, 23, 25 Apr 2020, 7.15pm

 

The Gondoliers (Gilbert & Sullivan)

Theatre Royal Glasgow

14, 15, 16, 22, 23 May 2020 7.15pm
17 May 2020, 2.30pm

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen

28, 29, 30 May 2020, 7.15pm

Eden Court, Inverness

3, 4, 5, 6 Jun 2020, 7.15pm

Festival Theatre Edinburgh
10, 11, 13 Jun 2020, 7.15pm
13 Jun 2020, 2.30pm

Hackney Empire, London

15,16,18 Jul 2020, 7.30pm

16, 18 Jul 2020, 2.30pm

 

Opera in Concert

Lammermuir Festival, St Mary’s Parish Church, Haddington | 20 Sep 2019, 7.30pm

Zanetto (Mascagni) and Susanna’s Secret (Wolf-Ferrari)

On sale 28 May 2019 at www.lammermuirfestival.co.uk

 

City Halls, Glasgow | 1 Dec 2019, 3pm

Iris (Mascagni)

 

Usher Hall, Edinburgh | 2 May 2020, 7.30pm

Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni) and Zingari (Leoncavallo)

 

Theatre Royal Glasgow | 21 May 2020, 7.15pm

Festival Theatre Edinburgh | 12 Jun 2020, 7.15pm

Hackney Empire, London | 17 Jul 2020, 7.30pm

Utopia, Limited (Gilbert & Sullivan)

 

Opera Highlights

Autumn 2019

12 Sep to 19 Oct

Touring to Motherwell, Stirling, Stonehaven, Tain, Ullapool, Stornoway, Portree, Oban, Galashiels, Perth, Dunfermline, Thurso, Kirkwall, Ellon, Stranraer, Greenock & Musselburgh

 

Spring 2020

4 Feb to 14 Mar

Touring to Bathgate, Birnam, Markinch, Campbeltown, Bowmore, Arrochar, Bunessan, Arisaig, Beauly, Cumnock, Castle Douglas, Callander, Lerwick, Peebles, Fochabers, Alford & Rutherglen

 

Fox-tot! (Lliam Paterson)

Edinburgh Academy (Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe)

2 to 16 Aug 2019 (excluding Mondays), 10am and 11.30am

Tickets on sale now from https://tickets.edfringe.com/

Royal & Derngate, Northampton

27 Aug 2019, 2pm

28 Aug to 1 Sep 2019, 11am and 2pm

 

Touring Scotland Spring 2020

 

Scottish Opera Young Company – Merrily We Roll Along (Sondheim)

Glasgow

Spring 2020

 

Amadeus & The Bard

9 Sep to 12 Oct 2019

Touring to Earlston, Kirkcudbright, Annan, Cumnock, Ayr, Largs, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Paisley

 

Pop-up Opera

24 May to 20 July 2019

Tour includes Perth Festival of the Arts, Dunfermline, Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, Old Kilpatrick, Barrhead, Giffnock, Borders Book Festival, Dirleton, Callander, Cupar Arts EDEN, Aboyne & Deeside Festival, Haddington Show & Glasgow Canal Festival

 

Emerging Artists Recitals

University of St Andrews | Wed 20 Nov 2019

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland | Fri 10 Jan 2020

University of Glasgow | Thu 16 Jan 2020

 

Opera Unwrapped

 

Tosca

Glasgow |Mon 21 Oct 2019, 6pm

Inverness | Fri 8 Nov 2019, 6pm

Edinburgh | Mon 18 Nov 2019, 6pm

 

Nixon in China

Glasgow | Fri 21 Feb 2020, 6pm

Edinburgh | Fri 28 Feb 2020, 6pm

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Edinburgh | Wed 1 Apr 2020, 6pm

Glasgow | Wed 22 Apr 2020, 6pm

 

Pre-show talks

 

Tosca

Glasgow | Sat 26 Oct 2019, 6pm

Aberdeen |Sat 2 Nov 2019, 6pm

Inverness | Sat 9 Nov 2019, 6pm

Edinburgh | Sat 23 Nov 2019, 6pm

 

Nixon in China

Glasgow | Sat 22 Feb 2020, 6pm

Edinburgh | Sat 29 Feb 2020, 6pm

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Edinburgh | Sat 4 Apr 2020, 6pm

Glasgow | Sat 25 Apr 2020, 6pm

 

The Gondoliers
Glasgow | Sat 23 May 2020, 6pm

Aberdeen | Sat 30 May 2020, 6pm

Inverness |Sat 6 Jun 2020, 6pm

Edinburgh | Sat 13 Jun 2020, 6pm

London | Sat 18 Jul 2020, 6pm

 

Audio-described performances

 

Breaking the Waves

Edinburgh | Fri 23 Aug 2019, 7.15pm

 

Tosca

Glasgow | Sat 26 Oct 2019, 7.15pm

Aberdeen | Sat 2 Nov 2019, 7.15pm

Inverness | Sat 9 Nov 2019, 7.15pm

Edinburgh | Sun 17 Nov 2019, 3pm

 

Nixon in China

Glasgow | Sat 22 Feb 2020, 7.15pm

Edinburgh | Sat 29 Feb 2020, 7.15pm

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Edinburgh | Sat 4 Apr 2020,7.15pm

Glasgow | Sat 25 Apr 2020, 7.15pm

 

The Gondoliers

Glasgow | Sat 23 May 2020, 7.15pm

Aberdeen | Sat 30 May 2020, 7.15pm

Inverness | Sat 6 Jun 2020, 7.15pm

Edinburgh | Sat 13 Jun 2020, 2.30pm

 

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

(1.15pm for The Gondoliers on 13 Jun 2020).

Images: James Glossop

REVIEW: Scottish Opera Orfeo & Euridice – Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock

Gluck’s innovative, influential and hugely popular Orfeo & Euridice is the latest production from Scottish Opera’s Young Company.

Scottish Opera – Orfeo & Euridice © Julie Broadfoot

Following Gluck’s own lead, (he produced three versions of this work to suit the differing tastes of the audiences it was presented to and the voices singing it: Vienna 1762, Parma 1769 and Paris 1774) the company presents its own English language version for its young cast. Starting with the original Viennese version, it splits the role of Amore into three mischievous Cupids and Amore’s Act 1 aria is re-arranged for trio and chorus. It utilises Euridice’s Act 2 aria from the Paris version but with chorus and Gluck’s famous ballet music features the entire company.

Scottish Opera – Orfeo & Euridice © Julie Broadfoot

This whole production is a treat for both the eyes and the ears. It takes the best of the three versions to present a ‘greatest hits’, audience-pleasing edition. Musically it is simply beautiful and the young singers lead by professionals Daniel Keating-Roberts (Orfeo) and Jessica Leary (Euridice) display immense talent and promise for the future. Keating-Roberts counter-tenor can be an acquired taste, but entirely fitting for the role. Leary is glorious sounding as Euridice.

Scottish Opera – Orfeo & Euridice © Julie Broadfoot

Visually, Finlay McLay’s design, though minimalistic, packs a punch and Roy Herd’s lighting design is simply gorgeous – atmospheric and evocative.

Scottish Opera – Orfeo & Euridice © Julie Broadfoot

At 75 minutes running time, with a familiar subject matter (the myth of Orpheus), beautiful and undemanding music, inventive design and execution, this is an ideal introduction to opera. Not only is it an impeccably staged and delivered production, the Young Company shows hope for the future of opera in Scotland.

REVIEW: Anthropocene – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh’s fourth work for Scottish Opera (and their first full-length opera) received its world premiere in Glasgow last night. While Anthropocene delivers on many levels, it isn’t quite the perfect package…yet. There’s fantastic potential for thrills and chills both dramatically and musically, but there’s an overriding feeling that the narrative and expected tension of the subject matter has been sacrificed due to uneven pacing.

Entrepreneur Harry King has financed a polar expedition on his state of the art vessel, King’s Anthropocene, an expedition to explore the origins of life on earth. As the ice encroaches, the team become trapped, tensions rise among the small crew and an eerie discovery emerges from the frozen depths.

While Act One firmly establishes each character, it outstays its welcome by a good twenty minutes: there’s unnecessary repetitive padding of the libretto and a uniform musical tone that fails to grip. On the reverse side, its final act comes to its denouement at a break-neck speed. That said there are some hauntingly beautiful musical moments, most particularly at the hands of Jennifer France as the being from the ice. Her gorgeous, ethereal soprano sends shivers down the spine. Less successful both dramatically and vocally are Mark Le Brocq’s Harry King and Sarah Champion as King’s daughter Daisy – each is underpowered vocally and over-acting dramatically.

Samal Blak’s set and costume design, while functional, lacks the necessary detail that keeps the attention for the duration of a full-length work. Matthew Richardson’s direction is functional rather than original or thrilling.

The explorational of our Anthropocene age, science and technology interwoven with ancient beliefs and a touch of Frankenstein, all seem thrilling on paper, and it would have been a stunner had the dramatic potential been fully exploited. It feels like a case of what might have been.

Runs until 26 January at The Theatre Royal, Glasgow, then tours to The King’s Theatre, Edinburgh and the Hackney Empire, London.

IMAGES: James Glossop

 

 

REVIEW: Opera Highlights (Scottish Opera) – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Four singers, one piano, seventeen venues, Scottish Opera’s much-anticipated Opera Highlights returns (yippee!) and as always, it never fails to delight.

Director Daisy Evans has framed this year’s production as an electronically created playlist of opera gems. An “on-stage opera newbie” goes on an “emotional musical voyage” discovering, via Spotify and Google via Alexa, just how music has the power to move. Evans is a director to watch, and her staging undoubtedly adds greatly to the enjoyment of the evening. It’s funny, clever, accessible, inclusive, all the things that good theatre of any genre should be. It also looks great. A neon door and window and a few wooden crates serve as the only stage dressing, but coupled with the brightly coloured suited, booted and co-ordinating nail-varnished cast, it works brilliantly.

Freed from the constraints of remaining in a single character, the singers’ personalities are given the chance to shine in a variety of roles, and the warmth just radiates from the quartet. The acoustics in this small auditorium are as close to ideal as it is possible to get in a theatre and the voices give goose bumps. Soprano Sofia Troncoso, Mezzo Sarah Champion, Tenor Richard Pinkstone, Baritone Dawid Kimberg are exceptional as is pianist Jonathon Swinard.

The programme, designed by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark, delivers something for everyone. The range of composers, styles and moods, genuinely runs the gamut of human emotion.

Scottish Opera’s annual ‘Highlights’ tour, and indeed the whole of the company’s programming, is a model for how a national company should operate. A hands-down, five star, exemplary evening of entertainment.

Currently on tour to: Ayr, Drumnadrochit, Wick, Forres, Ullapool, Stornoway, Portree, Lanark, Helensburgh, Dundee, Inverurie, Laurencekirk, Perth, Dumfries, Musselburgh and St. Andrews.

More information at Scottish Opera

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Greek – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Based on Steven Berkoff’s riff on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Greek has fast forwarded the story from Thebes, 429 BC to the Tufnell Park in the 1980s.

Mark-Anthony Turnage’s work, while labelled as modern opera is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and while the shock of the new may have worn off in the intervening years, it still packs a hugely entertaining punch visually and aurally. Though, those with a delicate stomach might want to give it a wide berth thanks to Dick Straker’s live video projections which include a stomach-turning greasy spoon breakfast complete with live maggots and those offended by fowl language be warned there’s plenty of effing and blinding.

While cleverly adapted to suit modern sensibilities, the fundamentals remain the same: our hero Eddy, clad in a tomato red Adidas 3-stripe tracksuit leaves behind the ‘cess pit’ of the East End to avoid fulfilling the prophecy of a fortune teller who predicts his father will die a violent death and he’ll ‘bunk up with his mum’.

Johannes Schutz’s set design comprising an enormous, white rectangular revolve with two door openings, focusses all the attention firmly up front and centre stage. Alex Lowde’s comical costume designs add to the almost vaudevillian feeling of the piece.

The cast of four (three of whom, Allison Cook, Susan Bullock and Henry Waddington, double, triple and quadruple up on roles) keep the interest and entertainment up throughout. There are however a few issues with projection, even from just a few rows back it sounds underpowered. That said, it doesn’t detract from the fact that this it remains hugely entertaining throughout.

Young conductor Finnegan Downie Dear, keeps the orchestra on point and sustains the creeping menace in the music for the duration.

Subtle it isn’t, but it is a thoroughly engaging, bawdy and bold, small but perfectly formed 80 minute breath of fresh air on the opera landscape.

Images: Jane Hobson

 

REVIEW: The Fiery Angel (Scottish Opera Sunday Series) – City Halls, Glasgow

Masochistic obsession, black magic, demons, mass possession, exorcism, skeletons, nuns, appearances from Faust and Mephistopheles, it’s no wonder Sergei Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, often called lurid and sensationalist, is seldom staged. This latest production in The Sunday Series from Scottish Opera sees the work given a stripped back concert style treatment and it’s all the better for it.

Rehearsal for The Fiery Angel
Photos by Julie Howden

While lacking a set, it lacks for nothing else. The principal cast is largely made up of native Russian speakers and some fellow Eastern Europeans and is supplemented by current students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland opera school. The expertise with the language is partly the reason for the quality of this production, that and the considerable singing and acting skills of its principal players. Russian soprano Svetlana Sozdateleva is fine-voiced and gives a convincing, emotive performance throughout as the mentally unsound Renata, as is Azerbaijani baritone Evez Abdulla as Ruprecht and Russian tenor Dmitry Golovnin as Agrippa von Nettesheim, though it must be said that at times they, and their fellow singers find it hard to be heard over the outstanding orchestra (itself swelled in number by students from the Conservatoire), who, under the commanding baton of Mikhail Agrest, have rarely sounded more powerful.

Rehearsal for The Fiery Angel
Photos by Julie Howden

For all its, quite frankly insane subject matter, the score is an absolute winner: powerful, hypnotic, dissonant, majestic, bold and gripping.

Every aspect of this largely concert hall venue is utilised well: singers enter through the auditorium, sing from the balconies, orchestra stalls and act out the considerable drama in an arrangement of simply staged, but hugely effective scenes.

An absolute triumph for both Scottish Opera and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a fantastic opportunity to hear Prokofiev’s masterpiece sounding at its best.

 

 

REVIEW: The 8th Door / Bluebeard’s Castle – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Karen Cargill David Hayward Bluebeard's castle theatre Royal Scottish opera glasgow

You must admire the bold, brave, artistic choices that have characterised Scottish Opera’s current season. However, whether these choices resonate with its current, loyal audience remains to be seen.

Lliam Paterson and Vanishing Point’s Matthew Lenton’s new commission The 8th Door has been devised as a companion piece to Béla Bartók’s sublime Bluebeard’s Castle, the intention being that they, (according to the programme notes) “complement each other’s artistic ambition and vision, through a provocative evening”. This world-premiere work provides plenty food for thought.

A relationship plays out before us from its inception to its demise, two actors, facing video cameras, their backs to the audience, their emotions projected onto screens. From the pit, six voices, accompanied by a stunningly good orchestra, sing a text based on the works of Bartók’s artistic contemporaries: Endre Ady, Judit Frigyesi, Sándor Weöres and Attila József, as well as Edwin Morgan.

While Paterson’s score is innovative in its approach and delivery, it wears the influence of Bartók’s work on its sleeve. However, it suffers in comparison. While Bluebeard’s Castle is a masterpiece, a shimmering, intensely unsettling, but beautifully scored existential tragedy, The 8th Door feels unremittingly dull and repetitive. This coupled with Matthew Lenton’s direction and Kai Fischer’s design, which instead of bringing freshness and modernity, is oddly outdated. Locked in their own vision of ‘modernity’ they seem to have failed to notice the real innovations in staging that are currently happening in theatre. (On a side note, among the clock-watching and harrumphing, there were two different walk-outs at around the 10-15 minute mark in my corner of the auditorium, both only returning to hear Bartók’s piece).

While Paterson’s brand spanking new work seems long at 40 minutes, Bluebeard’s Castle whips along at a cracking pace. Bartók’s 1918 modernist horror work feeling more innovative, more compelling and more resonant. As Bluebeard and Judith, Robert Hayward and Karen Cargill are in stunning vocal form and the orchestra of Scottish Opera, in particular its brass section, have rarely sounded finer.

While a journey into darkness and an unremitting blackness unite the two works, it’s the near 100 year-old piece that really resonates.

Runs on selected dates until 1 April then touring to Edinburgh Festival Theatre on 5 and 8 April 2017

For more information visit http://www.scottishopera.org.com

REVIEW: Scottish Opera: The Trial – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

The nightmarish world of Franz Kafka’s The Trial, a world of surveillance, authoritarian power and injustice, was a work of paranoid fantasy when it was written in 1914/15. However, in 2017, the subject matter of this modernist masterpiece, has proven to have an eerie prescience.

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Philip Glass’s 20th opera, a co-production between Music Theatre Wales, The Royal Opera, Theatre Magdeburg and Scottish Opera, faithfully follows Kafka’s original text, thanks to its pin-sharp libretto by Oscar-winner Christopher Hampton. Enhanced by its innovative score by Glass, this is opera for non-opera goers.

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In this surreal tale, it’s the morning of his 30th birthday, and the unsuspecting Josef K is arrested for an unspecified crime. Initially disbelieving, he refuses to think that this could end any other way but well, but those closest to him urge him to take the charges seriously. As time ticks ominously by, and confronted by a parade of unpredictable characters and absurd situations, (including a web-fingered maid, a portrait artist, lawyers, court officials and a pair of guards that are dead ringers for Tin Tin’s the Thompson Twins) he increasingly realises that this nightmare may be one from which he can never escape.

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There’s a danger that Kafka’s bleak story (though one that is blackly comic) coupled with Glass’s (in his own words) “music with repetitive structures”, played out on a minimalistic set, could be entirely one-dimensional, but it manages to be grippingly atmospheric. There are flashes of the great Bernard Herrmann in Glass’s score and the music matches the mood of the piece perfectly, a menacing bass line ramping up the discomfort throughout.

Sung in English, The Trial’s accessibility is one of its strengths, that and the talented eight-strong cast. Sure-footed and fine-voiced, Nicholas Lester delivers a well-judged Josef K, veering between nonchalance and despair perfectly. Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Elgin Llyr Thomas makes his mark too, a singer with a successful future ahead of him, he shines brightly in the array of roles he’s charged with tackling.

Scottish Opera’s first production of 2017 perfectly showcases the diverse repertoire the company is increasingly becoming known for.and long may it continue.

Next up for the company is Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, a Sunday Series concert performance of L’Enfant Prodigue, a lesser-seen Debussy work and the much-loved Opera Highlights tour.

For more information visit: https://www.scottishopera.org.uk/

REVIEW: L’amico Fritz – The Sunday Series: Opera in Concert

Scottish Opera’s music director Stuart Stratford starts this year’s Sunday Series on a high note with an outstanding concert performance of Pietro Mascagni’s rarely seen, but utterly charming bucolic tale of unrequited love, L’amico Fritz.

Written after his verismo masterpiece Cavalleria Rusticana, Mascagni’s intention was to write a work as far removed from Cavalleria as he could and in L’amico, that is absolutely achieved, this is a simple, gentle, pastoral love story – there’s none of Cavalleria’s bloodshed and the body count is nil. It’s 19th Century, pre Franco-Prussia War Alsace where the Protestant and Jewish communities live in blissful harmony. Rabbi and local matchmaker David bets his friend, the marriage phobic, wealthy landowner Fritz Kobus that he will succumb, within the year, to the charms of married life. In the meantime Fritz falls in love with Suzette, the daughter of one of his tenants and a happy ending is guaranteed for all.

Stuart Stratford has previous form with L’amico, conducting a fully staged performance for Opera Holland Park in 2011, and his familiarity with, and love for the piece shines through. The Orchestra of Scottish Opera freed from the pit and onstage in their purpose-built acoustic shell, have rarely sounded better, the gorgeous melodies and beautiful lyricism of the piece are a ravishing treat for the ears. The singers are universally deserving of praise, with Peter Auty’s Fritz, Stephen Gadd’s David and Hanna Hipp in another ‘trouser role’ particularly fine.

If the glorious L’amico Fritz is a marker of the quality to be expected for the rest of the Sunday Series, then opera lovers in Scotland are in for a treat indeed.

The next offering from the Sunday Series will be Debussy’s L’enfant prodigue on 5th February 2017 at 3pm

For more information visit: https://www.scottishopera.org.uk

 

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