Opera Scotland

Tim Dean talks about the RCS and La Clemenza di Tito

Posted 5 Jan

Tim Dean has been Head of Opera at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland since 1994, in charge of new postgraduate courses in opera training for singers and repetiteurs. Since moving to Scotland, he has conducted over thirty new opera productions.  Recently he spared some time for a wide ranging discussion with OperaScotland's Iain Fraser.

How would you summarise progress at the Conservatoire during your time here?

Well, we've become increasingly an international operation, drawing students from all parts of the United Kingdom and abroad as well. In fact, this very day Aleksey Gusev who sang Napoleon in our co-production of Prokofiev's War and Peace is arriving here to study for a spell. And the new Principal of the Conservatoire, Jeffrey Sharkey, who is going to take over when John Wallace retires in September, is an American. So although of course we want to encourage and develop Scottish talent, we must have an international outlook too.

Have many of the graduates from the opera course been able to develop professional careers? Iain Paterson for example has been making headlines.

Well, Iain Paterson's career is already an impressive one - I overlapped a year with him when I arrived. I'm not going to single out a particular singer but quite a number are making good progress (reeling off quite a list). Students leaving our conservatoire have a work ethic which will serve them well. Two of the Jette Parker singers at the Royal Opera House are our graduates, something no other conservatoire can match. The Emerging Artists scheme (with Scottish Opera) is a fine one.  One of the current Emerging Artists (Andy McTaggart) is still not finished here but it seems to be a combination that works.

We have been puzzled that the attendances for the opera performances at the Conservatoire are not greater. After all, your standard is generally very high.

Well, they're hard to predict. The Conservatoire uses all the usual ways of promoting attendances - our seasonal brochure, posters, leaflets and so on. If OperaScotland can help promote them too, that would be welcome.

Are the co-productions with Scottish Opera going to resume after the break due to the closure for refurbishment of the Theatre Royal? 

Well, we certainly want them to. Such things are a great attraction to prospective students and important for developing skills. We need activity like this in Scotland. But collaborations, even an established one like this, can be complicated and to some extent this will depend on the attitude of the new Principal.

Turning now to the choice of opera, can you say something about La Clemenza di Tito, which is shortly to be performed by your students? 

The choice of opera is always, always, always down to consideration of the students. You want something that suits their particular abilities and something that will extend and help their development as artists. This piece I thought fits well. Let us hope it attracts the audience they deserve!

Thanks Tim! Watch the clip and learn more.

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