Opera Scotland

Linn Records CKD 535

Recording of Breathe Freely released

Posted 18 Oct 2015

Scottish composer Julian Wagstaff's opera Breathe Freely is produced by the Glasgow-based label Linn Records, and features world-class musicians and singers including conductor Derek Clark, Scottish Opera's Head of Music. Commercial recordings of Scottish operas are rare, and this is the first such recording since Judith Weir's A Night at the Chinese Opera in 2002.

The 40-minute opera, commissioned in 2013 by the University of Edinburgh to celebrate the 300th anniversary of its School of Chemistry, played to a full house at its world première in Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms in October of that year.

Breathe Freely tells the story of a Polish independence fighter, socialist activist and chemist named Stanislaw Hempel. Hempel came to Edinburgh in 1943 to undertake scientific work in support of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, in which he held the rank of lieutenant. He was given a laboratory by Prof. James Kendall, Head of Chemistry at Edinburgh University at the time and a leading expert on poison gas. The lineup of characters is completed by Dr. Chrissie Miller, the first female chemist to be inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Julian Wagstaff said: "I am delighted that the University of Edinburgh and Scottish Opera chose to support a professional studio recording of my most recent chamber opera. I am also thrilled that aconductor of such experience and pedigree as Derek Clark has come on board for the project, along with renowned producer Calum Malcolm and first-rate musicians and singers. To see the recording released on a label with the reputation, history and pedigree as Linn Records really is the icing on the cake!"

Alex Reedijk, General Director at Scottish Opera, said: "It's common knowledge that I am very keen on the development and commissioning of new opera in Scotland and I'm pleased that Scottish Opera has been able to provide support to Julian and The University of Edinburgh in delivering the performance aspect of such an interesting project."

The CD can be found on the Linn Records site here ; the opera website can be found here. Excerpts can be found here.

Excerpts from the opera are on the Vimeo website here.



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