Opera Scotland

Death of a Scientist

Tours by decade

2000s - 1 tour

2009 - Scottish Opera
Fully Staged with Orchestra

Tours by location


John Harris


Zinnie Harris


Recent events



First Performance: Glasgow (Òran Mór), 20 February 2009

Scottish Opera première: As above.



Death of a Scientist came to the stage fourth out of the five new works in the second season of Five:15s. The audience had clearly enjoyed the first three, and this work, with its unusually topical theme, had been heavily publicised beforehand, and was the obvious piece to get things going after the interval.



Woman 1 (mezzo-soprano)

Woman 2 (mezzo-soprano)

Dr Kelly (tenor)

Man (bass)


Programme Note

The opera centres on the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly, the government scientist who found himself at the centre of the controversy surrounding the government's report on WMD in Iraq, and the subsequent decision to go to war. However the composer and librettist have introduced fictional elements and characters to give a universal perspective to the emotional conflict at the heart of David Kelly's situation and his final moments.

The opera starts with a man in crisis, on the edge of suicide. Will this bring him some level of rest and comfort or will he find himself in terrible purgatory? If he stays alive, can he face the shattering consequences of his actions and the powerful forces lining up against him? Voices call to him, tempting him to rest or compelling him to stay alive. But is it already too late?

The Cast

Dr Kelly
Woman 1
Woman 2

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2023

Site by SiteBuddha