Tag Archives: Scottish Opera

WHAT’S ON: SCOTTISH PREMIERE AND FIRST FULLY-STAGED UK PRODUCTION OF GROUNDBREAKING OPERA AINADAMAR TAKES PLACE THIS OCTOBER

On 29 October, the Scottish premiere and first fully-staged UK production of Ainadamar takes place at Theatre Royal Glasgow, before transferring to Festival Theatre Edinburgh in November.

Ainadamar, (the Spanish pronunciation of the Arabic name ‘Ayn al-dam’, meaning ‘The Fountain of Tears’), by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov and acclaimed American librettist David Henry Hwang, explores the life and work of playwright and poet Federico García Lorcawhose anti-fascist stance and open homosexuality led to his death in 1936 at the hands of Franco’s Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War.

Combining opera with flamenco dance and song, this new co-production with Opera Ventures (Breaking the Waves 2019 and Greek 2017), Detroit Opera, The Metropolitan Opera and Welsh National Opera, is directed by Olivier Award-winning choreographer and director Deborah Colker and designed by Jon Bausor. Known for her intensely physical dance work with Cirque du Soleil and the 2016 Olympics Opening Ceremony, as well as her own Companhia de Danca, Deborah is making her much-anticipated opera directorial debut.

Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford conducts the internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey in the role of Lorca. The story, which reimagines the political drama of the early 20th century, centres around Lorca, his muse Margarita Xirgu, sung by Lauren Fagan, and her student Nuria, sung by Julieth Lozano.

Director Deborah Colker said: ‘I believe I do like challenges. After so many creations, I find myself facing my first opera ever, and this fascinates and challenges me. Quoting the composer Richard Wagner, opera is the total art work.

Ainadamar is about love, freedom, friendship and death. Reflecting the intense Spanish spirit, the characters journey through memory, delirium and reality. I felt committed to Lorca’s poetry and to the idea of consecrating his history. Through the music created by Golijov, fulfilled with the Spanish spirit, I brought the soul and vitality of flamenco.

‘The relevance and contemporaneity of Lorca’s poetry is impressive. Lorca lingers through the centuries: born in the 19th century, dying in the 20th century and influencing us with his poetry in the 21st century. Ainadamar shows through its characters that the poetry and the struggle will perpetuate through time.’

Composer Osvaldo Golijov said: ‘I loved witnessing Deborah Colker’s gestation of this thrilling new production of Ainadamar. Her vision, together with Stuart Stratford’s kinship with Deep Song (cante jondo, traditional Andalusian music), the musical roots of Ainadamar, have revealed to me new dimensions in the opera.’

Those who wish to discover more about how the production was created can attend Ainadamar Pre-show Talks, which delve into the detail of the opera. Tickets are free but should be booked in advance. 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. There are also free Touch Tours of the set, and a live audio introduction before the start of the performance.

NEWS: SCOTTISH OPERA ANNOUNCES ITS 2022/23 60TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON

Scottish Opera has unveiled its 2022/23 Season which includes four new mainstage productions, with one of the four an outdoor community opera, a revival of Don Giovanni, the world premiere of a Scottish Opera Young Company production, two Operas in Concert productions, two Opera Highlights tours, a Pop-up Opera tour, and the return of the hit ‘opera for babies’, BambinO. The Company travels to over 60 locations across the length and breadth of Scotland, demonstrating its commitment to bringing opera to as many communities as possible.

A truly international line-up of singers appears throughout the Season. Making their debuts with the Company are Zachary Altman, Viktor Antipenko, Pablo Bemsch, Francesca ChiejinaJulian Close, Lauren Fagan, Samantha Hankey, Andrew Henley, Emyr Wyn Jones, Julieth Lozano, Christopher Nairne, Paula Sides, Holly Teague, Alfredo Tejada and Shakira Tsindos.

There are welcome return visits from Susan Bullock, Osian Wyn Bowen, Karen Cargill, Sioned Gwen Davies, Zoe Drummond, Máire Flavin, Justina Gringyte, Aled Hall, Charlotte Hoather, Jessica Leary, Hye-Youn Lee, Jamie MacDougall, Jonathan McGovern, Andrew McTaggart, William Morgan, Colin Murray, Samuel Pantcheff, Sarah Power, Annie Reilly, Shengzhi Ren, Phillip Rhodes, Ronald Samm, John Savournin, Shuna Scott Sendall, Lea Shaw, Dan Shelvey, Richard Suart, Elgan Llŷr Thomas, Sinéad Campbell-Wallace, Keel Watson, Kitty WhatelyLouise WinterRoland Wood and Dingle Yandell.

Stuart Stratford, Scottish Opera Music Director said: ‘I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to unearth several operatic treasures with audiences across Scotland in our 60th Anniversary Season. Each production has such a rich aesthetic. They are all so vividly different, both visually and musically. There is much for audiences to look forward to, from the somewhat berserk promenade production of Bernstein’s Candide, to the beauty of Puccini’s triptych Il trittico, and the physical, theatrical opera-meets-flamenco of Ainadamar in what will be a directorial debut for the world-renowned choreographer Deborah Colker. This is a must-see for all fans of dance, theatre, music and of course opera. I am really excited by the many wonderful singers joining us this Season, from fresh new talent, including current and former Scottish Opera Emerging Artists, to well-known names.’

Alex Reedijk, Scottish Opera General Director said: ‘We are truly delighted to be able to launch our 2022/23 60th Anniversary Season, our first Season announcement since 2019.  We are incredibly proud of our work throughout the pandemic, so much so that we have decided to continue our open-air productions with both a large-scale community opera in Glasgow and our intimate Pop-up Opera that tours throughout Scotland.

‘Partnerships are so crucial to the Company, and we’re thrilled to develop a new relationship with Maryhill Integration Network, an organisation bringing migrants, asylum seekers, and settled inhabitants of Glasgow together through art. We’ll be collaborating again with Opera Ventures after past successes with Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves and Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek. And we are delighted to return to the Lammermuir Festival with a hidden gem – Massenet’s Thérèse. We continue our mission to ensure communities right across Scotland can experience live opera on their doorsteps, with performances in over 60 locations in our 60th Anniversary Season. We are also launching a new series of Access Opera to help those who have difficulty attending general performances. These offer a stress-free environment, without the worry of crowded spaces or the need to be silent. We hope that the popular and wide-ranging repertoire available this Season offers something for everyone, and encourages those who haven’t yet experienced the thrill of live opera.’

Productions:

Don Giovanni

A revival of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, its first since the 2013 premiere, opened on 15 May at Theatre Royal Glasgow. Directed by renowned baritone and newly appointed Scottish Opera President Sir Thomas Allen, this dark and atmospheric production tours to Inverness, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, with a special performance on 5 June in Edinburgh to mark Scottish Opera’s 60th Birthday.

 

Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford (15 May – 25 June) and Head of Music Derek Clark (16 -18 June) conduct an exciting cast that includes Roland Wood (Falstaff 2021) and Jonathan McGovern (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022), sharing the role of the titular anti-hero. They are joined by Hye-Youn Lee (Nixon in China 2020), Kitty Whately (Hansel and Gretel On Screen 2021), Keel Watson and Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Lea Shaw (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022). Set in the backstreets of 17th century Venice, designs are by Simon Higlett, who worked with Sir Thomas on his much-loved 2019 production of The Magic Flute.

 

Don Giovanni is supported by The Scottish Opera Syndicate.

Candide

This August, a second year of Live at No. 40 takes place in Glasgow with a new outdoor promenade production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. There will be six performances of this vibrant and contemporary take on Bernstein’s satirical opera held under a purpose-built marquee tent at Scottish Opera’s Production Studios. The Citizens Theatre, who performed at last year’s Live at No.40, will also present a production with more details to be announced soon.

 

Candide, written by Bernstein before he composed his hit musical West Side Story and based on the novel by Voltaire, follows larger-than-life characters in chaotic adventures across Europe and South America. Full of imagination and comedy, the production is updated for the specific challenges of capitalism and globalism in today’s world, celebrating all of life’s beautiful, messy stories along the way.

 

Directed by Jack Furness (Opera Highlights 2018) and designed by Tim Meacock (Pagliacci 2018), William Morgan (The Gondoliers 2022) plays the idealist Candide, with Paula Sides as his beloved Cunegonde. They are joined by an ensemble cast that includes Ronald Samm (Pagliacci 2018), Susan Bullock (Breaking the Waves 2019), Jamie MacDougall (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022), Dan Shelvey (The Gondoliers 2022) and Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Lea Shaw (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022). Stuart Stratford conducts The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and an 80-strong community chorus, in partnership with Maryhill Integration Network, an organisation bringing migrants, asylum seekers and settled inhabitants of Glasgow together through art.

 

Candide is supported by Friends of Scottish Opera, Scottish Opera’s Education Angels, and The Scottish Opera Endowment Trust.

 

Ainadamar (The Fountain of Tears)

This October, the Scottish premiere and first fully-staged UK production of Ainadamar (the Spanish pronunciation of the Arabic name ‘Ayn al-dam’, meaning ‘The Fountain of Tears’) by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov and acclaimed American librettist David Henry Hwang, takes place at Theatre Royal Glasgow, before transferring to Festival Theatre Edinburgh.

 

Exploring the life and work of playwright and poet Federico García Lorca, Ainadamar premiered in 2003 in Tanglewood and is Golijov’s first opera, combining opera with flamenco dance and song. This new co-production with Opera Ventures (Breaking the Waves 2019 and Greek 2017), Detroit Opera, The Metropolitan Opera and Welsh National Opera, is directed by Olivier Award-winning choreographer and director Deborah Colker and designed by Jon Bausor. Known for her intensely physical dance work with Cirque du Soleil and the 2016 Olympics Opening Ceremony, as well as her own Companhia de Dança, Deborah is making her much-anticipated opera directorial debut.

 

Stuart Stratford conducts the internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey in the role of Lorca, whose anti-fascist stance and open homosexuality led to his death in 1936 at the hands of Franco’s Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. The story, which reimagines the political drama of the early 20th century, centres around Lorca, his muse Margarita Xirgu, sung by Lauren Fagan, and her student Nuria, sung by Julieth Lozano.

Ainadamar is supported by Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle and Sarah and Howard Solomon Foundation.

 

Il trittico: Il tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi  

Following the success of his 2021 Falstaff production, Sir David McVicar returns to Scottish Opera in March 2023 with a new staging of Il trittico. This is the first time Sir David has directed Puccini’s epic triptych, and the first time Scottish Opera has staged it.

 

A new co-production with Welsh National Opera, with set designs by Charles Edwards, the trio of glorious one-act operas about love and loss will tour to Theatre Royal Glasgow and Festival Theatre Edinburgh. Il tabarro (The Cloak) sees a wife trapped in a marriage she longs to escape, Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) tells the story of an outsider forced in to a life for which she has no vocation, and Gianni Schicchi focuses on a dysfunctional family caught in the snare of a shameless conman.

 

Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford conducts Roland Wood (Falstaff 2021), Sinéad Campbell-Wallace (The Puccini Collection 2021), Viktor Antipenko, Julian Close, Aled Hall (Falstaff 2021), Francesca Chiejina, Louise Winter (Falstaff 2021), Máire Flavin (Opera Highlights 2018) and internationally-acclaimed Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill (Bluebeard’s Castle 2017). They are joined by former Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Elgan Llŷr Thomas (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022) and Sioned Gwen Davies (The Gondoliers 2022).

 

Puccini’s scores, including the favourite ‘O mio babbino caro’ in Gianni Schicchi, each boast their own vivid sound world yet fit together into a satisfying whole. With Il trittico’s earlier start, and a long second interval for dinner and drinks, audiences can expect a truly memorable theatrical experience and the chance to hear all three operas in one night as Puccini intended.

 

The production is supported by Dunard FundThe Alexander Gibson Circle, Scottish Opera’s ‘Play a Supporting Role’ Appeal, and The Scottish Opera Endowment Trust.

 

Carmen

Following his much-lauded production of Nixon in China in 2020, John Fulljames returns to Scottish Opera in May 2023 to direct Georges Bizet’s Carmen, concluding the Company’s 60th Season. This bold new production is sung in English with set and prop design by Sarah Beaton and costumes by Christina Cunningham. Taking place in 1970s Spain amidst the unrest and upheaval of that time, the investigation into Carmen’s murder runs alongside the systems that led to her death.

 

Justina Gringyte (Edgar 2018) sings the title role in this classic opera of jealousy, lust, and an outsider struggling to carve out a life by her own rules in a militaristic and patriarchal society. Also in the cast are Hye-Youn Lee (Nixon in China 2020) and Phillip Rhodes (Falstaff 2021), along with four of Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists Zoe DrummondLea ShawOsian Wyn Bowen and Colin Murray.

 

Audiences can enjoy such hits as the Habanera, Flower Aria and Toreador Song, alongside Bizet’s magnificent orchestral interludes and spectacular chorus numbers. Conducted by Dane Lam (La Traviata 2017), Carmen tours to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, and Aberdeen.

 

Carmen is supported by The Scottish Opera Syndicate.

 

Opera in Concert: Thérèse & The Verdi Collection

In September 2022, Scottish Opera returns to Lammermuir Festival in East Lothian with Jules Massenet’s Thérèse, at St Mary’s Church in Haddington. This heart-wrenching work of French Romanticism then travels to Perth Concert Hall.

 

These concert performances of Thérèse, with Justina Gringyte (Edgar 2018) in the title role, are directed by Roxana Haines and conducted by Anu Tali, making her Scottish Opera debut. Also in the cast are Shengzhi Ren (Opera Highlights 2022), Dingle Yandell (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022), Dan Shelvey (The Gondoliers 2022) and Emerging Artist Colin Murray.

 

Telling the story of a woman who finds herself at a crossroad, caught between her husband, a revolutionary representative, and her former lover, who is a deposed nobleman and her husband’s close friend, Massenet’s sumptuous opera sits against the backdrop of the French Revolution and Robespierre’s infamous Reign of Terror.

 

Touring to Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh in November and February, is The Verdi Collection. These concerts, conducted by Stuart Stratford with The Orchestra of Scottish Opera, will feature the romance of La traviata, the intrigue of Un ballo in maschera, the passion of La forza del destino, the domestic tragedy of Otello, and Don Carlo.

 

Thérèse and The Verdi Collection are supported by Friends of Scottish Opera and The Scottish Opera Endowment Trust.

 

Emerging Artists

The Company is thrilled to once again offer a group of young artists a period of full-time work at the beginning of their careers. The Emerging Artists have opportunities to perform with Scottish Opera in live productions throughout the year, as well as work in-house with staff and visiting coaches to develop their skills. Our 2022/23 artists are soprano Zoe Drummond, mezzo-soprano Lea Shaw (returning for a second Season), tenor Osian Wyn Bowen, baritone Colin Murray and repetiteur Kristina Yorgova.

 

The Emerging Artists, supported by Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artist Benefactors and Elizabeth Salvesen, will perform in the Company’s productions as well as three recitals in University of St Andrews, University of Glasgow and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

 

Opera Highlights

There will be two tours of the much-loved Opera Highlights in Autumn this year and Spring 2023, when four talented singers and a pianist travel to local venues all over Scotland. Emma Jenkins (National Opera Studio’s Anarchy at the Opera 2022) directs Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Zoe Drummond and Osian Wyn Bowen, along with Shakira Tsindos, and Christopher Nairne in the Autumn, and Holly TeagueAnnie ReillyAndrew Henley and Emerging Artist Colin Murray in the Spring. Once again, the music is skilfully curated by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark, who combines operatic favourites with lesser-known gems. The Music Director/Pianist is Emerging Artist repetiteur Kristina Yorgova (Autumn tour), and Janis Hart returns as designer.

 

The Autumn Tour, from 22 September to 29 October visits Dundee, Markinch, Fraserburgh, Forres, Banchory, Cullivoe, Lerwick, Linlithgow, Town Yetholm, Stranraer, Castle Douglas, Dunlop, Gartmore, Biggar, Glenuig, Gairloch and Durness. Tickets are on sale this summer.

 

The Spring Tour, from 14 February to 25 March in 2023 visits East Kilbride, Crail, Garvald, Perth, Stonehaven, Boat of Garten, Invergarry, Wick, Kirkwall, Ullapool, Torridon, Isle of Skye, Oban, Campbeltown, Bowmore, Gretna, Hawick and Ayr. Tickets are on sale this winter.

 

Opera Highlights is supported by Friends of Scottish Opera.

 

Pre show talks, Accessible and Audio-described performances

The Company recently launched new afternoon Accessible shows to allow audience members the flexibility and freedom to relax and move about as required during performances. This Season there will be Accessible performances (supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels) of Don GiovanniGianni Schicchi and Carmen in Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

 

With Dementia Friendly values at their core, these shorter performances (under two hours including an interval) are open to all, whether you’re recovering from an operation, have breathing difficulties, are living with dementia, have a young baby or on the autism spectrum.

 

The Access performances, which include a presenter to help guide audiences through the story, are conducted by Head of Music Derek Clark, and performed by a cast of singers. Doors open 45 minutes before the start time so there’s no need to rush, brighter lighting levels than usual in the auditorium and there are television screens around the theatre if you’d prefer to watch in the lobby or sit in a quiet area.

 

Half-hour pre-show talks, delving into the detail of AinadamarIl trittico and Carmen are also available this season. Those who are visually impaired can take advantage of audio-described performances, where a live commentary is provided, describing the action on stage without compromising the music. As part of the experience a recorded introduction to the opera is provided in advance, and there is a free Touch Tour of the set and a live audio introduction before the start of the performance.

 

Education and Outreach

 

Pop-up Opera

This summer, audiences can look forward to three brilliant half-hour Pop-up Opera shows. Touring around Scotland in June and July are A Little Bit of Barber and A Little Bit of Figaro, two cleverly-rewritten versions of Rossini’s and Mozart’s classic comedies. Arranged by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark, they follow the adventures of the mischievous barber Figaro.

 

Children aged four to eight can enjoy Be A Sport, Spike!, a Scottish Opera original composed by Karen MacIver with words by Ross Stenhouse, first commissioned for the 2018 European Championships Festival in Glasgow. It tells the story of Mike ‘The Spike’ McTavish, the greatest sportsman the world has ever seen. There’s no-one who can run faster, jump higher or swim further than mega-fit Spike. But there is one thing that Spike can’t do – sing! Audiences will join Spike and his friends as he starts to exercise those vocal chords, and finds out that a little perseverance can go a long way.

 

Each outdoor performance is brought to life by a series of colourful illustrations, storyteller Allan Dunn, sopranos Sarah Power and Jessica Leary, baritone Andrew McTaggart, cellist Andrew Drummond Huggan and guitarist Sasha Savaloni.

 

The tour kicks off on 3 June in Glamis, then travels to Dundee, Glasgow, Mugdock, Aberdeen, Ellon, Stonehaven, Inverness, Strathpeffer, Coatbridge, Greenock, North Bragar, Carradale, Rothesay, Dumfries, Musselburgh, Bearsden, Stirling, Perth and Edinburgh Park.

 

Pop-up Opera is supported by Friends of Scottish Opera.

 

BambinO

This August and September, audiences have the chance once again to see former Scottish Opera Composer in Residence Lliam Paterson’s five star ‘opera for babies’, BambinO, in East Kilbride, Perth, Inverness, Banchory, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Motherwell with more venues to be announced.

 

A co-production with Manchester International Festival and Improbable, director Lissa Lorenzo revives this delightful piece of music theatre for infants up to 12 months, originally directed by Phelim McDermott.  With stunning designs by Emma & Giuseppe BelliBambinO tells the story of a young bird leaving its nest for the first time. Charlotte Hoather and Samuel Pantcheff reprise the roles of Ulcellina and Pulcino, accompanied by cellist Andrew Drummond Huggan, and percussionist Darren Gallacher.  The musical director is Chris Gray.

 

Since it premiered in 2017, BambinO has toured around the world to great acclaim, including to New York and Paris, as well as Manchester International Festival, Edinburgh Fringe and Glasgow.

 

BambinO is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels and New Commissions Circle.

 

Rubble

This July, Scottish Opera’s Elmbank Crescent premises hosts the world premiere of Rubble, a new piece from acclaimed composer Gareth Williams and Scottish theatre legend Johnny McKnight. Specially commissioned for Scottish Opera Education’s 50th Anniversary, members of Scottish Opera Young Company, who are aged 17 to 23, are joined by professional soprano Shuna Scott Sendall (The Tsar Has His Photograph Taken 2021), to tell this searingly honest, at times darkly comedic, story. Roxana Haines directs and Chris Gray, Scottish Opera Young Company Artistic Director, is the conductor.

 

Rubble follows a group of young people as they stand amongst the debris of Findenterran Farm, until recently a children’s home. As they pick through the shattered fragments of their childhood, they speak of what really went on in that largely ignored property on the outskirts of town. Rubble gives a voice to those who were ignored and overlooked by society while their youth was quietly stolen from them, and the cast and creative team have worked with ARTiculate Art Therapy to being this world safely to life.

 

This production is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels, Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle and The Leverhulme Trust Arts Scholarship Grant.

 

Breath Cycle

The Company’s groundbreaking Breath Cycle returns for three more 10-week blocks in October, January and April. The free online project, designed to benefit those suffering from a range of conditions affecting lung health, in particular long Covid, was made with support from key NHS consultants.

 

Composer Gareth Williams and singers David DouglasJessica Leary and Daniela Hathaway lead the weekly sessions via Zoom, introducing participants to fun and stimulating songs, vocal exercises and breathing techniques in the comfort of their own home. The benefits of singing regularly are widely recognised, from improved lung function, posture and circulation to a strengthened immune system and core, better breath control and relief from stress and anxiety.

 

Participants can also sign up for song writing workshops with performance poet, Martin O’Connor, which run for eight weeks alongside each Breath Cycle block. These sessions are aimed at giving participants tools to get songs on paper and into the world. The songs will be arranged and recorded by Scottish Opera to create a free digital resource for individuals and singing groups worldwide as a positive musical legacy of the past two years. The Covid Composer’s Songbook will officially launch later this year, and a selection of songs composed during the song writing workshops are available to hear now on Scottish Opera’s website.

 

Breath Cycle is supported by Cruach TrustThe Murdoch Forrest Charitable TrustW M Mann FoundationSouter Charitable Trust, and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

 

Memory Spinners

Memory Spinners, a project designed to engage with people living with dementia through music and art, returns for more free sessions in Glasgow. First launched in 2012, these use music, storytelling, movement and the visual arts to help participants and their carers relax, get creative, and form new support networks. Over an eight-week period, rehearsals and visual arts activities build towards a short performance inspired by the music, characters and storyline of a popular piece from the operatic repertoire to which friends and families are invited.

 

The R S Macdonald Charitable TrustLife Changes TrustSylvia Aitken Charitable TrustBellahouston Bequest FundRKT Harris TrustJ Macdonald Menzies Charitable TrustTrades House of Glasgow (Commonwealth Fund), and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels supports Memory Spinners.

 

Sweet Sounds in Wild Places

On display this Season in the Borders, Edinburgh and Glasgow (venues to be announced on the Scottish Opera website) is original art from Sweet Sounds in Wild Places, a series of free workshops led by Scottish Opera to help build creative skills and increase self-confidence and self-expression, in partnership with The Abbotsford Trust and Live Borders!

 

During the sessions artists from the Company used music, creative writing, film and photography to empower those who have been struggling during lockdown. Forming part of the 250th anniversary celebrations of Sir Walter Scott, his novel The Bride of Lammermoor was used as inspiration to explore issues such as loneliness, isolation and lack of empowerment, as well as the impact, for good and bad, that landscape and environment can have on mental health and well-being.

 

Sweet Sounds in Wild Places is supported by The Cruden Foundation and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

 

School activity

This Season, The Last Aliens and The Curse of the MacCabbra Opera House are available to schools. Teachers can sign up to access online teaching resources to work through with their pupils, which includes audio and video teaching aids, as well as a series of practical tasks and exercises, or choose to work in person with our highly-trained artists.

 

The Last Aliens, a newly commissioned work from composer Alan Penman with lyrics by Ross Stenhouse, is an intergalactic adventure for primary 5 to 7 pupils. A funny and relevant story about saving Planet Earth, they learn five fantastic songs in their own classrooms, and then the Scottish Opera Teaching Artists team arrive at the school for a morning to teach movement and choreography to prepare for a 30-minute performance in front of fellow pupils, friends and family. In a normal year, close to 9,000 children across Scotland take part in these performances with many more thousands of friends and families coming to see them in action.

 

The Curse of the MacCabbra Opera House, on tour in 2023, is a 30-minute opera for primary 5 to 7. A chilling gothic tale with a good dose of comedy, The Curse of the MacCabbra Opera House features music from Alan Penman and lyrics from writer and director Johnny McKnight.

 

Scottish Opera has expanded its resources for school-aged children to reach secondary students. A series of special lessons for students are designed around Donizetti’s classic comedy, L’elisir d’amore, where they will learn about history, drama and storytelling. This includes several newly-written endings devised by the Company. More information will be available soon from the Scottish Opera website.

 

There is also The Water Rabbit, a brand new online resource for all Primary Confucius Classroom Hubs.

 

These projects are supported by Harbinson Charitable TrustDavid & June Gordon Memorial TrustHayward Sanderson Trust and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

 

Disney Musicals in Schools

Scottish Opera and Disney Musicals in Schools are once again collaborating to give primary schools in Scotland the opportunity to learn and produce their own Disney KIDS musical, 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. The schools are also provided with a Disney Show Kit including scripts, director’s guide, music score, choreography DVD, and rehearsal and accompaniment CDs.

 

The programme with Disney and Scottish Opera first took place in Scotland in 2019 and involved primary schools in Irvine, Paisley, Stirling, Galashiels and Johnstone, but was sadly cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The schools involved, from Glasgow, Wemyss Bay, Faifley, Renfrew and Kilmarnock, have since been able to continue the project over the last few months, and will present their shows in Spring 2022.

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

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

Book Tickets

Perth Theatre

Perth

Thu 3 Oct

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Carnegie Hall

Dunfermline

Sat 5 Oct

Book Tickets

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

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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.

 

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: Scottish Opera Kátya Kabanová – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

The shining star of Scottish Opera’s current season is undoubtedly Stephen Lawless’ gorgeous looking and sounding version of Leoš Janáček’s Kátya Kabanová. One of the four late operas by the composer that are universally acknowledged as his greatest works, it has been given something of a Scandi-noir look by designer Leslie Travers and lighting designer Christopher Akerlind, for this co-production with Theater Magdeburg. Based on Alexander Ostrovsky’s play The Storm, and originally set in the 1860s in the small industrial town of Kalinov on the banks of the Volga river, the action has been advanced over a hundred years to the dark days of the Soviet era. 

Sweet and loyal Kátya is seemingly happily married to Tikhon but unrelentingly bullied by his over-possessive, domineering mother Kabanicha. When Tikhon is ordered away on business by his mother, the oppressed and isolated Kátya is tempted into the arms of another. Inherently loyal and utterly remorseful of her actions, she cannot come to terms with what she has done. In the closed-minded town she is subjected not only the whispers of the townsfolk, but the whispers in her own head. Kátya decisively takes action to calm the storm inside.

The orchestra of Scottish Opera are on lively form, at times so lively that it takes a strong singer to stand up to their vigour: some are more successful than others. Laura Wilde is a soft and timid Kátya with a crystal clear soprano, however, there are points where she, like others is overwhelmed by the pit. American tenor Ric Furman as her insipid lover Boris, is almost inaudible for much of the production, and as her Mrs. Danvers-like mother-in-law-from-hell, Patricia Bardon is in fine voice, but strays into pantomime territory as the arch villain. Much more successful are lovers Varvara (Hanna Hipp) and Vanya (Trystan Llŷr Griffiths) who provide a lively foil to the darker goings on.

This is a production that transcends its faults, darkly atmospheric, beautifully designed and with a lyrical yet highly dramatic score that is an absolute treat for the ears, it is a shining jewel in Scottish Opera’s current season.

Touring to Edinburgh 21 and 23 March 2019

Image: James Glossop

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

 

 

 

 

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