Opera Scotland

Opera Highlights 2012Scottish Opera

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Scottish Opera's 2011-12 season was its fiftieth, with celebrations in order, though the tone was muted. There was a sense of relief that the company had survived recent turmoils, and the level of activity was much reduced. The full-scale productions began in the autumn with a revival of Thomas Allen's Barber of Seville staging. In the New Year there were new productions of Hansel and Gretel and The Rake's Progress, along with a welcome revival of the vintage Tosca production. In the absence of any invitation to play the main festival in 2011, the first item in the season was a staging on the Edinburgh Fringe of Weill's Seven Deadly Sins. This was followed by a third co-operation with Music Theatre Wales at the Traverse - the highly dramatic Greek. The autumn repertoire also had a medium scale tour of Orpheus in the Underworld. In January the Russian co-productions with the Conservatoire continued, with Prokofiev's Betrothal in a Monastery. There was also the expected Highlands and Islands concert party under the Opera Highlights label. In June, the company's 50th anniversary was celebrated with a single concert performance, well-cast, of those old stalwarts from days of yore, Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci

The new year started with what was billed as the eighteenth Opera Highlights tour (previously marketed as Essential Scottish Opera) - four singers and a pianist touring the Highlands and Islands. A novelty this time, in every sense, was the premiere of Dance 'til the Sun Sets by their new composer in residence, Gareth Williams.

All fifteen venues heard arias, duets and ensembles from the likes of La traviata, Don Giovanni, Madam Butterfly, as well as less well-known gems by Smetana, Ambroise Thomas, Rimsky-Korsakov and Emmerich Kálmán. This eclectic programme was brought to life in venues from Jedburgh to Mull, Arran to Lochinver, Glenrothes to Livingston, Largs to Musselburgh and back again.

Of particular interest was the series of French items, including popular hits by Bizet - Micaëla's aria from Carmen and the immensely (and justifiably) popular duet from The Pearl Fishers. To these were added William Tell's great aria as he prepares to shoot the arrow, a charming duet from Mignon and dramatic solos from Werther and Louise.

In addition to the Mozart items, earlier pieces included one of Handel's greatest tenor arias and a catchy piece of early Rossini, from Tancredi. The operetta solos included an unusual mad scene by Sullivan, and, to end with, a wonderfully catchy piece by the unjustifiably neglected Hungarian master Kálmán.

There were other highlights, including the aria from Sadko and several more recent items. These included not just the new piece by Gareth Williams, but also Tom Rakewell beginning his slide to oblivion, and Billy Budd preparing for his own doom.

The most astonishing feature of this evening, at any rate close to the end of its run, in Glenrothes, was the ease with which the four singers were able to create instantly the right atmosphere to make the most of each item. In this, they were, of course, given enormous help by pianist Susannah Wapshott.

Tickets £11 (£5 for under 26s). Running time 2hrs (including interval).

The programme was as follows:

Part 1

Verdi: 'Libiamo ne' lieti calici' (Brindisi) La traviata (Quartet).

Handel: 'Where e'er you walk' Semele (RAG).

Mozart: 'Là ci darem la mano' Don Giovanni (MF/RS & AW).

Rossini: 'Di tanti palpiti' Tancredi (RA).

Smetana: 'I know of a lovely girl' The Bartered Bride (AW & RAG).

Britten: Look, through the port' Billy Budd (MF/RS).

Stravinsky: 'Here I stand' The Rake's Progress (RAG).

Thomas: 'Légères hirondelles' Mignon (RA & MF/RS).

Bizet: 'Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante' Carmen (AW).

Rossini: 'Sois immobile' Guillaume Tell. (MF/RS).

Massenet: 'Va! Laisse couler mes larmes' Werther (RA).

Bizet: 'Au fond du temple saint' Les pêcheurs de perles. (RAG & MF/RS).

Part 2

Verdi: Willow Song Otello (AW & RA).

Mozart: 'Donne mei, la fate a tanti' Così fan tutte (MF/RS).

Williams: 'Dance 'til the sun sets' (Text - Marjorie Chan) (RA & RAG).

G Charpentier: 'Depuis le jour' Louise (AW).

Rimsky-Korsakov: Song of the Hindu Merchant Sadko (RAG).

Puccini: 'Scuoti quella fronda di ciliego' (Flower Duet) Madama Butterfly (AW & RA).

Britten: Quartet of the Defeated Paul Bunyan (Quartet).

Sullivan: 'Cheerily carols the lark' Ruddigore (RA).

J Strauss II: 'Come with me to the dance!' Die Fledermaus (MF/RS & RAG).

Kálmán: 'A waltz! A waltz!' The Gipsy Princess (Quartet).

Performance Cast


Anita Watson


Rosie Aldridge


Robert Anthony Gardiner


Marcus Farnsworth (Jan 31; Feb 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18)

Riccardo Simonetti (Feb 21, 23, 25, 28; Mar 1, 3)

Performance DatesOpera Highlights 2012

Map List

Howden Park Centre | Livingstone

31 Jan, 19.30

Broughton Village Hall, Biggar | Biggar

2 Feb, 19.30

Town Hall, Jedburgh | Jedburgh

4 Feb, 19.30

Lochside Theatre | Castle Douglas

7 Feb, 19.30

St Columba's Church, Largs | Largs, Ayrshire

9 Feb, 19.30

Brodick Hall, Arran | Arran

11 Feb, 19.30

Village Hall, Glenuig, by Lochailort | Loch Ailort

14 Feb, 20.00

Victory Hall, Benderloch | Benderloch, Oban

16 Feb, 19.30

Mull Theatre | Tobermory

18 Feb, 20.00

Gairloch Community Hall, Raonmor | Achtercairn Brae

21 Feb, 19.30

Village Hall, Lochinver | Lochinver

23 Feb, 19.30

Glenmoriston Millenium Hall, Invermoriston | Invermoriston

25 Feb, 19.30

Village Hall, Midmar | Midmar, Inverurie

28 Feb, 19.30

Rothes Halls | Glenrothes

1 Mar, 19.30

Brunton Theatre | Musselburgh, East Lothian

3 Mar, 19.30

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