Tag Archives: Scottish Opera

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA YOUNG COMPANY PRESENTS STEPHEN SONDHEIM’S THE FROGS IN APRIL

Scottish Opera Young Company brings Stephen Sondheim’s zany and rambunctious musical comedy  The Frogs to Glasgow for two performances this Spring at the Royal Concert Hall’s New Auditorium, on the 8 and 9 of April. This is the first time the company has taken on a piece from the world of music theatre.
Glasgow’s much-loved writer, director and pantomime dame Johnny McKnight (Last One Out, 2013) directs Sondheim’s rarely performed screwball musical, with Jonathon Swinard, Young Company’s Artistic Director, conducting the young performers, who are aged 17 to 23. The Young Company, which staged Gluck’s Orfeo & Euridice in 2019 to great acclaim, is joined by professional musical theatre performers Darren Brownlie and Neil Thomas. Scottish Opera Scenic Artist Neil Haynes provides the set design with costumes by Aileen Sherry.
Adapted by Burt Shevelove from the one act comedy by Aristophanes, with music and lyrics by Sondheim, the composer of Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods, The Frogs tells the tale of the Greek God of music and wine, Dionysus. He has had enough, and the political landscape is torturous, with fake news giving him fatigue. The people have stopped believing in beauty and truth, but he is convinced he can change things, embarking on a treacherous journey to the Underworld to bring back George Bernard Shaw from the dead and save civilisation through the power of art. Will he overcome his fear of syncopated singing frogs to reach his final destination? Will William Shakespeare out-poet Shaw? And will Dionysus ever pull off that faux-fur outfit given to him by his step-brother Herakles?
Director Johnny McKnight said: ‘The Frogs is a real treasure amidst the catalogue of the genius that is Stephen Sondheim. The music is deceptively complex and couched within a script that borrows from Comedia dell’arte, traditional music hall and farce. It seeks to entertain through the surreal and mischievous whilst also hiding underneath the narrative something very prescient for our time – when our leaders are failing us and hiding the truth who will speak to and for us? It’s a brilliantly funny book with hilarious lyrics, and I think it will offer not only a great night’s entertainment but a fantastic challenge for our Scottish Opera Young Company to sink their teeth into.’
Scottish Opera Young Company Artistic Director Jonathon Swinard, said: ‘Sondheim’s music for The Frogs is amphibiously ambitious and toad-tappingly catchy – Scottish Opera Young Company’s staging of this sophisticated score is smarter than even the most excessive sibilance can express!’
New Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 
8 & 9 Apr, 7pm 
Tickets £12/£5 (Under 26s) 
0141 353 8000

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA’S PRIMARY SCHOOLS TOUR RETURNS WITH WARRIORS! THE EMPEROR’S INCREDIBLE ARMY

In Spring and Summer 2020, thousands of primary school children across Scotland will perform Warriors! The Emperor’s Incredible Army as part of the Scottish Opera Primary Schools Tour. Pupils in primary 5, 6 and 7 will rehearse and perform this opera, which recounts the tale of the terracotta warriors of Xian.
It begins on Monday 13 January at Milngavie Primary School, and will visit over 50 schools around Scotland during the Spring term, including in Glasgow, Edinburgh, East and West Dunbartonshire, Clackmannanshire, North and South Lanarkshire, Angus, Aberdeen, Fife, Moray, Falkirk, East Lothian, the Highlands and Dumfries and Galloway. (Full list of participating schools below.)
The tour continues in the Summer term on Monday 20 April, visiting schools in Aberdeenshire, the Borders, East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh, East Renfrewshire, Angus, South Lanarkshire, Fife, Argyll and Bute, Ayrshire, Glasgow, Moray, Dumfries and Galloway and Shetland.
Warriors! tells the true story of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, who was determined to cheat death and rule over his country forever. Over many years, Qin Shi Huang assembled an army of 8000 soldiers, horses and chariots to watch over him in the afterlife. The warriors were all armed to the teeth, but made entirely of clay.
Composed by Alan Penman with lyrics by Ross Stenhouse, pupils learn the opera’s words and songs in their own classrooms and are then helped by the Scottish Opera team to prepare for a performance in front of pupils, friends and family. It allows them to learn in an exciting, creative and challenging way, further developing their music education. Performing in front of an audience instils a confidence that will continue to help pupils in the future, whatever path they follow. Teachers from schools which have already taken part agreed that the Primary Schools Tour broadened the children’s cultural experiences, improved team work skills, increased cultural confidence as well as singing ability, and supported the aims of Curriculum for Excellence.
Between January and November 2019, 132 Scottish schools took part in in the Primary Schools Tour, which was established by Scottish Opera 48 years ago. Teachers are provided with high quality teaching resources, including a support pack to help introduce the music and related activities, an advance visit from a specialist choral musician, and a day-long workshop with a team of experience arts educations specialists and performers.
Warriors! was originally commissioned in 2015 in partnership with the five Scottish Confucius Institutes based in the Universities of Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt and Aberdeen. In 2016, around 200 pupils from the Fangcaodi International School, Beijing learnt the songs and performed the opera, which is mainly sung in English with some words in Mandarin. The ‘pilot’ visit was deemed such a success by the teachers that Scottish Opera was invited to return and work with a cast of pupils nearly four times larger.
In October 2019, three singers from Scottish Opera returned to China, and with around 200 pupils from the Kunming Fangcaodi International School learned and performed our second opera based on Chinese history, The Dragon of the Western Seas, which tells the story of Kunming’s most famous citizen, Admiral Zheng He.
Scottish Opera’s Director of Outreach and Education, Jane Davidson said: ‘Our annual Primary Schools Tour is one of the longest established programmes at Scottish Opera – every year over 9,000 children across Scotland take part in these performances with many more thousands of friends and families coming to see them in action.
‘We continue our work with the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS), bringing back Warriors! The Emperor’s Incredible Army, which tells an important story from China’s history. Pupils get to exercise their creative muscles and experience the added confidence and excitement that comes from performing for an audience of their peers, family and friends.’
In 2018 Scottish Opera was granted Confucius Classroom Hub status by Hanban, the headquarters of Confucius Institutes worldwide, making it the first opera company in the world to be selected for this accolade. It is one of four hubs based outwith a school setting; the others are the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Scottish Schools Football Association and the Royal Zoological Society at Edinburgh Zoo. The ‘classroom’ at the Company’s Edington Street production studios, holds resources on Chinese performance, arts and culture. It is used as a rehearsal space for Chinese-related programmes.
Confucius Classrooms are hubs usually based in schools and serving the local community. The concept promotes joint planning of cultural activities, sharing ideas and resources to stimulate the learning and teaching of Chinese language and culture.
Warriors! The Emperor’s Incredible Army is supported by The Mickel Fund, The Cruden Foundation, The Stevenston Charitable Trust, Martin Connell Charitable Trust, David & June Gordon Memorial Trust, Harbinson Charitable Trust, The R J Larg Family Trust, Alma & Leslie Wolfson Charitable Trust and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.
More details about Warriors! are available from www.scottishopera.org.uk/join-in/opera-for-schools/

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA AND DISNEY MUSICALS IN SCHOOLS JOIN FORCES

Scottish Opera and Disney Musicals in Schools are collaborating for the first time to give five primary schools in Scotland the opportunity to learn and produce their own Disney KIDS musical including The Lion King KIDS, Aladdin KIDS and The Jungle Book KIDS. The pupils will then perform two special shows in their schools and at Theatre Royal Glasgow. 

Following a selection process by Scottish Opera, the schools initially chosen to take part in the free, three-year Disney Musicals in Schools programme are Lawthorn Primary School in Irvine, Todholm Primary School in Paisley, East Plean Primary School in Stirling, Langlee Primary School in Galashiels and St Anthony’s Primary School in Johnstone. This is the first time the programme has taken place in Scotland, and five new schools will be chosen to take part in 2020, and another five the year after.  

This collaboration between Scottish Opera and Disney Musicals in Schools coincides with the return of Disney’s The Lion King, which is set to open its run at the Edinburgh Playhouse in December. 

The Primary 7 pupils from the five selected schools this month start working with two music and drama artists from Scottish Opera’s Outreach and Education Department, who will run step-by-step workshops covering every aspect of casting, rehearsing, staging and performing a 30-minute long version of one of Disney’s musicals. 

Disney Musicals in Schools features Disney KIDS musicals, which are shorter stage adaptions of classic Disney stories written expressly for primary school performers. The programme aims to build skills and confidence in both pupils and teachers, encourage participation and collaboration, and leave a sustainable arts legacy for years to come, especially in schools that are actively seeking greater engagement with the arts.

Over a 17-week period, the Scottish Opera teaching artists guide pupils through music and movement, and work with staff to give them experience in singing, stage directing, choreography and stage management. In addition, there are visits from set and costume design specialists to help staff create the costumes and props required for the performance. The schools are also provided with a Disney Show Kit including scripts, director’s guide, music score, choreography DVD, and rehearsal and accompaniment CDs. 

Disney Musicals in Schools was first launched ten years ago as an outreach initiative designed to develop theatre programmes in New York Elementary Schools, and then in London in 2016

Jane Davidson, Head of Outreach and Education at Scottish Opera said: ‘SOE is delighted to be Disney Musicals in Schools’ very first Scottish partner in the delivery of Year 1 of a three year in-depth, skill building programme for schools. This unique programme is designed not only to introduce teachers to the key elements involved in preparing their pupils to stage one of Disney’s classical musicals but also, through interaction with parents and families, to help establish the role of the arts as a valuable tool in consolidating the school at the heart of the community it serves. Both organisations are firm advocates of the power of the arts to support integrated learning; to enhance attainment levels and to build a child’s capacity to achieve their potential and we hope that access to the extensive learning and teaching resources we have to offer, will help them to support their pupils even more effectively in the future.

Nancy Shakerley, Education and Outreach Manager, Disney Theatrical Productions commented: ‘We are delighted to join forces with Scottish Opera to bring Disney Musicals in Schools to Scotland. Creativity is at the heart of everything we do, and we are committed to helping young people, their teachers and their schools access the arts. Schools play a vital role in igniting the spark of creativity in their young people and it is our aim that initiatives like Disney Musicals in Schools inspire not only the next generation of theatregoers but theatre makers on and off stage.’ 

Jacqueline McBurnie, Head Teacher at St Anthony’s Primary School in Johnstone added: We are delighted to be part of this exciting project. It will allow our children to have an experience that would have been beyond their wildest dreams. What makes it even more fantastic is that it will be happening at a time when the school will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. What a way to celebrate as a community!’ 

NEWS: OPERA HIGHLIGHTS SPRING TOUR TRAVELS TO 17 VENUES ACROSS SCOTLAND

Opera Highlights is back on the road on February 4, with four singers and a pianist journeying to 17 venues the length and breadth of Scotland, from Lerwick in the north to Castle Douglas in the south.

Following 17 performances in Autumn, the same Opera Highlights but with a new cast is travelling the highways and byways by land, sea and air. The Spring tour begins in Bathgate, then visits Birnam, Markinch, Campbeltown, Bowmore, Arrochar, Bunessan, Arisaig, Beauly, Cumnock, Castle Douglas, Callander, Lerwick, Peebles, Fochabers, Alford and Rutherglen.

Set in a beautiful garden, director Roxana Haines’ production features a playlist of operatic classics and must-hear rarities, curated by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark. Highlights include Delibes’ ‘Flower Duet’, Vaughan Williams’ ‘Blue larkspur in a garden’ and many more from the likes of Mozart, Lehár and Scottish Opera Composer in Residence, Samuel Bordoli.

Scottish Opera 2019/20 Emerging Artist repetiteur Michael Papadopoulos is the Pianist/Music Director, and is joined by soprano Zoe Drummond; mezzo-soprano Jade Moffat; tenor Andrew Irwin and baritone Arthur Bruce, The Robertson Trust Scottish Opera Emerging Artist this Season.

Roxana Haines, who directed Scottish Opera’s hit Edinburgh Festival Fringe show Fox-tot! this summer, said: ‘After a successful Autumn tour I am pleased to revive this Opera Highlights show, where the cast cordially invite you to a party on your doorstep. This Spring we have a brand new cast to guide you through our story which takes place in luscious gardens and magical flora and fauna of Opera. The stage has been set, decorations unpacked and the guests have all arrived but, the problem is we’re still not sure whose party this is…

‘As the evening progresses, the connections between our characters unravel through music from the likes of Handel, Donizetti and Mozart, and lighter pieces from Gilbert & Sullivan and Vaughan Williams as well as a new work by Samuel Bordoli. Prepare for an evening of charm, magic and love in all its operatic forms in a show that highlights the joy and absurdity of opera.’

This Opera Highlights tour is supported by The Friends of Scottish Opera, JTH Charitable Trust and The Scottish Opera Endowment Trust. Tickets are on sale from 11 December.

Image: Julie Broadfoot

WHAT’S ON FEBRUARY: SCOTTISH OPERA PREMIERE OF JOHN ADAMS’ ICONIC NIXON IN CHINA TAKES PLACE IN FEBRUARY AT THEATRE ROYAL GLASGOW

The Scottish Opera premiere of John Adams’ Nixon in China takes place on February 18. Following three performances at Theatre Royal Glasgow, this new co-production with The Royal Danish Theatre and Teatro Real Madrid transfers to Festival Theatre Edinburgh for two further dates. 

John Fulljames, Director of Opera at The Royal Danish Theatre, directs an exciting cast including Eric Greene as Richard Nixon, Julia Sporsén (Ariadne auf Naxos 2018) as Pat Nixon, Mark Le Brocq (Anthropocene 2019) as Mao Tse-tung, and Hye-Youn Lee (La bohème 2017) as Madame Mao. The conductor is Joana Carneiro, Principal Conductor of the Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguesa at Teatro Sao Carlos in Lisbon. Designs are by Dick Bird, who last worked with Scottish Opera on The Mikado in 2016. 

Adams’ work, a collaboration with poet and librettist Alice Goodman and theatre director Peter Sellars, is inspired by Nixon’s much-publicised 1972 visit to China, the first time an American president had journeyed there. Hailed as the pioneer of a new kind of ‘docu-opera’, in his eclectic score Adams’ mixes a huge range of sounds from pre-recorded electronics to live passages echoing Wagner and Johann Strauss, alongside jazz references and big band sounds that evoke the 1930s of Nixon’s youth. Featuring fascinating archive footage from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum and The Richard Nixon Foundation, the opera, which premiered in 1987, is as much about the private moments as the public during the historic trip. It explores the experience of the wives as well as the husbands, and memory versus fact. 

Director John Fulljames said: Nixon in China is a classic opera; Nixon is a hero of Verdian complexity and Madame Mao’s vocal fireworks ranks alongside those of the Queen of the Night. This is a spell-bending score which established John Adams’ as one of the great twentieth century opera composers and put American opera on a world stage. Although the events of President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to Chairman Mao in China have passed into history, this tale of the staging of global politics at the birth of the live media age feels more potent than ever. With a cast led by Eric Greene as President Nixon, and Julia Sporsén as Pat Nixon we have a great team to stage this myth about the ultimate powerlessness of the most powerful people in the world.’  

Those who wish to discover more about how the production was created can attend Nixon in China Unwrapped, one-hour tasters delving further into the show, as well as Pre-show Talks. Audience members with a visual impairment can enjoy the full opera experience at audio-described performances, which have a live commentary describing the action on stage without compromising the music. 

Cast List 

Richard Nixon Eric Greene  

Mao Tse-tung Mark Le Brocq  

Chou En-lai Nicholas Lester 

Pat Nixon Julia Sporsén

Henry Kissinger David Stout  

Chiang Ch’ing (Madame Mao) Hye-Youn Lee  

First Secretary to Mao Louise Callinan  

Second Secretary to Mao Sioned Gwen Davies

Third Secretary to Mao Emma Carrington 

 

Creative Team 

Composer John Adams

Libretto Alice Goodman 

 

Conductor Joana Carneiro

Director John Fulljames  

Set & Costume Designer Dick Bird 

Lighting Designer Ellen Ruge  

Projection Designer Will Duke 

Sound Designer Cameron Crosby

Original Choreographer John Ross

Revival Choreographer Nathan Johnston  

Associate Projection Designer Hayley Egan

 

 

Performance Diary 

 

Theatre Royal Glasgow, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow G2 3QA

Tue 18 Feb, 7.15pm

Thu 20 Feb, 7.15pm

Sat 22 Feb, 7.15pm 

 

Nixon in China Unwrapped 

Fri 21 Feb, 6pm 

Nixon in China Pre-show Talk

Sat 22 Feb, 6pm 

Nixon in China Touch Tour

Sat 22 Feb, 6pm 

Nixon in China Audio-described performance 

Sat 22 Feb, 7.15pm 

 

Festival Theatre, 13–29 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9FT

Thu 27 Feb, 7.15pm

Sat 29 Feb, 7.15pm 

 

Nixon in China Unwrapped 

Fri 28 Feb, 6pm

Nixon in China Pre-show Talk

Sat 29 Feb, 6pm 

Nixon in China Touch Tour

Sat 29 Feb, 6pm 

Nixon in China Audio-described performance

Sat 29 Feb, 7.15pm 

REVIEW: Tosca – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Sumptuous, stunning, shocking, and still sensational, Anthony Besch’s production for Scottish Opera of Giacomo Puccini’s once decried, but now beloved, “shabby little shocker” Tosca, still has the power to stir almost 40 years on. As evidenced by the packed house, this ninth revival, is as popular as ever, and rightly so.

Now widely utilised, but ground-breaking in the 1980s, was Besch’s re-setting of the work from the Napoleonic era to 1940s Fascist-era Rome, and the production looks and feels as fresh and relevant as the moment it first appeared.

As the curtain rises on Peter Rice’s glorious set there is an audible gasp from both those new to this production and those in the audience welcoming home an old and much-loved friend from its extensive travels around the globe. The magnificent realisation of the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, is truly breath-taking, never more so than in the Te Deum, where the splendidly clad clergy and congregation bring the curtain down on the first act. The representations of Scarpio’s office in the Palazzo Farnese and the ramparts of the Castel Sant’Angelo are just as magnificent and historically accurate.

Puccini’s sublime music sounds strikingly modern and almost cinematic throughout, and the orchestra under the baton of Stuart Stratford sounds majestic, managing to strike the perfect balance of power without ever overwhelming the singers.

Natalya Romaniw is an out-standing Tosca, seamlessly marrying her stunning vocals to beautifully measured and highly convincing acting skills. Roland Wood is an assured Scarpia, but it is Gwyn Hughes Jones as Cavaradossi who is the knock out of the evening, never was a voice more perfectly married to a role, he is truly stunning.

This is a five-star, breath-taking production in every respect, and the perfect example of what opera can and should be.

Runs until 26 October 2019, then touring to Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

For more information visit Scottish Opera

IMAGES: JAMES GLOSSOP

 

 

REVIEW: Amadeus and the Bard – Scottish Opera Production Studios, Glasgow

We’re invited to a night out at Poosie Nansie’s Inn, on of Robert Burns’ favourite hostelries, in Mary McCluskey’s Amadeus and the Bard.

Subtitled 18th Century Cosmic Brothers, this mixture of story and song, explores the lives of Scotland’s best-loved poet and Austria (and the World’s) most revered composer, Mozart and sheds light on the often startling similarities between them. Burns’ traditional Scottish folk tunes are blended with some of Mozart’s most popular arias. Tam O’ Shanter sits alongside The Magic Flute, A Red, Red Rose alongside The Marriage of Figaro.

McCluskey’s production is like a great, big all encompassing hug. From the moment the audience enters greeted by the cast, clad in their authentic looking, late 18th Century garb, to the last notes ringing out, the audience feel more like participants than on-lookers. The engaging performers, the songs, poems and script are delivered so warmly and invitingly that you can’t help be captivated.

The parallels between these two seemingly disparate men are cleverly woven together and delivered inventively. The mixture of professional performers both singers and an actor, and members of Scottish Opera Young Company, blend seamlessly to create an enchanting evening’s entertainment. Particularly of note are baritone Ross Fettes, a current student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a gifted young singer with a bright future ahead of him, and fellow RCS student, soprano Erin Spence, whose voice and artistry leave a lasting impression, Miss Spence has a rare talent of being able to act convincingly as well as deliver the songs with conviction. Tenor James McIntyre too throws himself fully into his multiple roles. It would be churlish though, not to acknowledge the quality of the entire cast, who are excellent.

That a national company is producing smaller-scale but highly engaging, original and appealing productions is to be lauded – more of this please.

Images: Sally Jubb

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA’S EMERGING ARTIST PROGRAMME CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY AS SEVEN ARTISTS ARE WELCOMED FOR 2019/20 SEASON

Scottish Opera has welcomed a talented group of Emerging Artists for the 2019/20 Season: Samuel Bordoli, Arthur Bruce, Jasmine Clark, Charlie Drummond, Mark Nathan, Michael Papadopoulos and Lucy Walters.

The Scottish Opera Emerging Artists programme was launched in 2009 and offers young artists a period of full-time work with the Company to help them launch their careers. Initially set up to nurture outstanding young singers, the programme now also includes positions for a repetiteur, costume trainee, a composer in residence, and, for the first time, an associate producer. Previous Emerging Artists include soprano Jennifer France, repetiteur Jonathon Swinard, baritone Ben McAteer and composers Gareth Williams and Lliam Paterson.

Alex Reedijk, Scottish Opera General Director said: ‘It’s a great pleasure to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Emerging Artists programme, which has over 40 alumni, with many of those having gone on to perform all over the UK. The incredibly flexible programme helps a tremendous breadth of artists at the start of their careers through an immersive opera company experience where they can draw on all the resources available to strengthen their skills, preparing them for a life in the performing arts. I also have to acknowledge the generosity of our supporters who have from day one been genuinely delighted to help support the Emerging Artists, and how much that support has grown over 10 years.’

Samuel Bordoli ARAM returns for a third year as composer in residence. In the 2018/19 Season, he composed an Overture and To Music for the Autumn 2018 Opera Highlights tour, as well as Le trésor des humbles for soprano and orchestra, premiered in March at Aberdeen’s Music Hall. During the Company’s 2017/18 Season he composed Wings and three piano interludes for the Opera Highlights tour, and Grace Notes to complement the Company’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos.

Samuel studied at Birmingham Conservatoire and London’s Royal Academy of Music, where he was the Mendelssohn Scholar. He was mentored by Peter Maxwell Davies for nine years. His broad output has included a chamber opera, Amerika, performed at the Tête à Tête opera festival in London, and a choral anthem, The Great Silence, premiered at the Windsor Festival for the Queen’s 90th Birthday. His music theatre piece Belongings was premiered on the Caledonian Sleeper between Aberdeen and London. He has also composed four Live Music Sculptures, site-specific compositions for London landmarks, including Tower Bridge, the Monument and St Paul’s Cathedral, and last year he co-produced Planets 2018, a new ‘Planets Suite’ performed inside planetariums across the UK.

This Season, Samuel is working on an original short digital opera film and a prelude to A Midsummer Night’s Dream entitled Hermia’s Nightmare, and he composed a new piece for Opera Highlights. For his work at Scottish Opera, Samuel was nominated for the ‘One to Watch’ Award at the 2018 Sunday Herald Culture Awards.

Scottish baritone Arthur Bruce is The Robertson Trust Scottish Opera Emerging Artist 2019/20. A graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Alexander Gibson Opera School, the Royal Northern College of Music and English National Opera’s Opera Works programme, Arthur was a member of Scottish Opera Young Company (formerly Connect). He has performed roles with Bampton Classical Opera, Berlin Opera Academy, Saffron Opera Group, Opera Eos, Edinburgh Grand Opera, London Young Sinfonia, Edinburgh Players Opera Group and Bowdon Festival Opera. He is also a Britten-Pears Young Artist. This Season at Scottish Opera, Arthur is performing in Amadeus & The Bard: 18th Century Cosmic Brothers, a new production about the links between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Robert Burns. He also goes on tour with Opera Highlights in the Spring, and performs in Iris, Utopia, Limited and The Gondoliers which tours to Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh and London.

Elizabeth Salvesen Costume Trainee Jasmine Clark will work on Scottish Opera’s Season 2019/20 productions in the Costume Department, headed by John Liddell. Graduating in 2017 with a 1st Class BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design (Costume Interpretation) degree from Arts University Bournemouth with a particular interest in historical costume, Jasmine has worked on a number of operas, musicals, short films and television programmes. These include La bohème at the Royal Opera House, The Pilgrim’s Progress at Royal Northern College of Music, Les Misérables at Birmingham Hippodrome and the BBC drama Father Brown. Former Student Head of Arts University Bournemouth Costume Archive, in her spare time Jasmine has volunteered as a Tattershall Tailor at National Trust Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire, creating historically accurate medieval costumes for staff to wear at events.

Soprano Charlie Drummond is an alumna of King’s College London (English Literature), the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Alexander Gibson Opera School and the National Opera Studio. She is a Samling Young Artist and the recipient of several awards including the Help Musicians UK Tutton Award, an Independent Opera Voice Scholarship, the Musicians’ Company Silver Medal and the Bruce Millar Gulliver Prize. Charlie has performed with companies including Longborough Festival Opera, British Youth Opera and Raucous Rossini. She also has a keen interest in contemporary opera and has premiered the role of Serena Farage in the new opera The Secretary Turned CEO (Lucid Arts), and performed in the world premiere of Simoon by Erik Chisholm (Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland).  This Season at Scottish Opera she will perform in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Iris, The Gondoliers, Utopia, Limited and the Company’s Opera Highlights Autumn tour.

Baritone Mark Nathan studied at the Alexander Gibson Opera School, having graduated with distinction from a Master’s at London’s Royal College of Music. He completed an undergraduate Music degree at Birmingham University. Mark has worked with opera companies including Welsh National Opera, Opera Loki, Hampstead Garden Opera and Winterbourne Opera, performing roles including Don Giovanni, Papageno, Marcello and Dr Falke. He has also appeared in musicals including Guys and Dolls and Into the Woods.

Mark is in demand as a recitalist and oratorio soloist, and is a keen lyricist, having written several musicals, and a collection of children’s poems entitled ‘Riddle Me This’, which has been set to music by Ronald Corp for the New London Children’s Choir. Mark plays the cello, piano, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, accordion, and the banjo. He plays in chamber ensembles, orchestras and pit bands. This season at Scottish Opera he will perform in A Midsummer Night’s DreamThe Gondoliers and the Opera Highlights Autumn tour.

London-born repetiteur and conductor Michael Papadopoulos is the 2019/20 Emerging Artist repetiteur. He trained at the National Opera Studio and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, having previously read Music at Trinity College Oxford. As a repetiteur, he has worked at Opera Holland Park (La traviata, Isabeau, Il segreto di Susanna), where he was Young Artist Repetiteur for the 2018 season, and British Youth Opera (Don Giovanni), as well as working on Julian Philllips’ The Tale of Januarie at GSMD. Recent conducting projects include a new opera by Edward Lambert for the 2019 Tête à Tête festival (Apollo’s Mission), Bach’s St John Passion, Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, and Handel’s Messiah (with the choir and musicians of St Paul’s Knightsbridge), and Daniel Saleeb’s Occo’s Eternal Act at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This Season at Scottish Opera, Michael will be working on Susanna’s Secret, Tosca, Nixon in China, The Gondoliers and Utopia, Limited, as assistant conductor on Iris and as Music Director/Pianist on the Opera Highlights Spring tour.

Lucy Walters is the Emerging Artist associate producer. After studying music at the University of Bristol and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Lucy interned at Wigmore Hall where she assisted the Learning Team with their administration and events. She then joined the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra as the Chorus Projects Officer, primarily working with the CBSO’s family of symphonic choruses on large-scale choral projects, performances with other orchestras, and chorus international touring. While at the CBSO, Lucy helped to co-ordinate the 2014 BBC Proms Youth Choir (Britten’s War Requiem with the CBSO and Andris Nelsons) before managing the project in 2015 (Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius with Vienna Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle). Since leaving the CBSO in 2016, Lucy has enjoyed refocusing on her passion for Opera in the Opera North Planning Team where she managed residencies for the National Opera Studio and Royal Northern College of Music. Jointly appointed by Opera Ventures and Scottish Opera, Lucy is primarily working on the future life of the Company’s co-production of Breaking the Waves over the next year.

The Emerging Artist singers and repetiteur will perform in four recitals; at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh in October, University of St Andrews in November, and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the University of Glasgow in January.

The Emerging Artists are supported by The Robertson Trust, Elizabeth Salvesen, Idlewild Trust and Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artist Benefactors.

 

Performance Diary

 

Fri 25 October, 6.30pm

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

 

Wed 20 November, 1pm

University of St Andrews

 

Fri 10 January, 1pm

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow

 

Thu 16 January, 1.10pm

University of Glasgow

www.scottishopera.org.uk

Image: James Glossop – Scottish Opera Emerging Artists (left to right) Lucy Walters, Mark Nathan, Arthur Bruce, Charlie Drummond, Jasmine Clark and Michael Papadopoulos

REVIEW: Opera Highlights (Scottish Opera) – Motherwell Theatre

There’s much to delight in every season at Scottish Opera, but the annual Opera Highlights tour is always a shining star of the programme.

We’re invited to a beautiful country garden where our protagonists are setting the scene for a party. We’re not exactly sure who our host is, but while the action unfolds we are introduced to each character, a little of their back stories and their relationship to one other. The inevitable cases of mistaken identity, star-crossed lovers, heartache and romantic resolution ensue.

Scottish Opera 2019 Autumn Highlights – © Julie Broadfoot – http://www.juliebee.co.uk

Derek Clark, Scottish Opera’s Head of Music has again chosen an eclectic and engaging set of arias, from the comic to the heart-breaking on which to weave the lively narrative. Among pieces by Mozart, Handel, Lehár and Tchaikovsky there are works by Ambroise Thomas, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Mildred Jessup, Alfred Cellier and the great Kurt Weill. There is also a world premier from Scottish Opera’s Composer in residence Samuel Bordoli. As fitting for a tour that’s aim is to bring new audiences to opera, there are a large number of pieces in English, either pieces original written in the language or in translation, increasing the accessibility for opera newbies.

Scottish Opera 2019 Autumn Highlights – © Julie Broadfoot – http://www.juliebee.co.uk

As important as the selection of music is, much depends on the quality of the singers. This year the calibre is universally excellent. The quartet: Soprano Charlie Drummond, Mezzo Martha Jones, Tenor Alex Bevan and Baritone Mark Nathan, as well as having fine voices, are easy to warm to, each can act and draw the audience in, keeping them engaged throughout. Of note is Roxana Haines direction, which is tight and breathes even more life into the already sprightly programme.

Scottish Opera 2019 Autumn Highlights – © Julie Broadfoot – http://www.juliebee.co.uk

If you are an established opera lover or someone curious to find out more, Opera Highlights is the perfect event. The extensive tour continues throughout Scotland (see below for dates and venues).

As ever, a five-star production from Scottish Opera.

The Albert Halls

Stirling

Sat 14 Sep

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Stonehaven Town Hall

Stonehaven

Tue 17 Sep

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Duthac Centre

Tain

Thu 19 Sep

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The Macphail Centre

Ullapool

Sat 21 Sep

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An Lanntair

Stornoway

Tue 24 Sep

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Aros Centre

Portree

Thu 26 Sep

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The Corran Halls

Oban

Sat 28 Sep

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Volunteer Hall, Galashiels

Galashiels

Tue 1 Oct

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Perth Theatre

Perth

Thu 3 Oct

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Carnegie Hall

Dunfermline

Sat 5 Oct

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Thurso High School

Thurso

Tue 8 Oct

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Orkney Theatre

Kirkwall

Thu 10 Oct

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Haddo House

Ellon

Sat 12 Oct

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Ryan Centre

Stranraer

Tue 15 Oct

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Beacon Arts Centre

Greenock

Thu 17 Oct

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The Brunton

Musselburgh

Sat 19 Oct

Book Tickets

 

REVIEW: The Magic Flute – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Set in a steampunk landscape inspired by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne: a wicked queen, a handsome prince, a damsel in distress, high priests, a comedy side-kick, magical instruments, a serpent and some sorcerers are all given new life in Scottish Opera’s revival of Sir Thomas Allen’s joyous production of The Magic Flute. 

While the work’s misogyny and Masonic undertones have been long debated, it is impossible to judge an opera written in 1791 by 2019’s standards and this utterly charming, gorgeous looking and sounding version is guaranteed to win over even the hardest of hearts. Its three-hour run time passing by in the blink of an eye.

Of note are the irresistible Papageno, so cleverly and cheekily played by Richard Burkhard, his bang up-to-date, witty asides and ability to wrap the audience around his little finger are a delight; Dingle Yandell’s beautifully sung Speaker; a sure-sounding Sarastro in James Creswell; Gemma Summerfield – a radiant and glorious Pamina, and talent to look out for, Julia Sitkovetsky, who handles Der Hölle Rache, one of the most famous arias in all opera, absolutely beautifully.

This five star production is thanks to the stars aligning in every aspect of its creation: sure-footed direction, lively conducting, a laugh-out-loud and oh-so clever translation, perfect casting, an orchestra on top form and an innovative and captivating stage design. It’s not often achieved, but this is as near to perfection as it’s possible to get. 

Runs until 18 May 2019 then touring. Images – James Glossop.

 

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