Opera Scotland

Navigate the Blood 2018New Opera in Scotland Events (NOISE)

Read more about the opera Navigate The Blood

Husband and wife Robert (Jamie MacDougall) and Lena (Shuna Scott Sendall) are on a high after winning a gold medal for their new malt whisky. But their Polish employee Agata (Klaudia Korzeniewska) feels her contribution to the success has not been suitably recognised. There is an altercation and Agata storms out. Soon she returns, in the company of the otherworldly – and teetotal – Elijah (Seumas Begg), who has saved her from the burning wreckage of her crashed car. Both Robert and Lena can’t help but feel that Elijah reminds them of their missing son, Liam.

Thus began NOISE’s enthralling distillery-set production of Navigate the Blood. The collaboration between Glasgow indie band Admiral Fallow and former Scottish Opera Composer in Residence Gareth Williams throws up some intriguing soundscapes, often building from repeated notes on keyboard or percussion overlaid with smooth strings. Hauntingly beautiful effects are created by Louis Abbott and Sarah Hayes of Admiral Fallow blending their voices with those of the four performers. The ‘It’s Uncanny’ trio in Act I and the gorgeous ‘Two are Better than One’ after the interval were the musical highlights on first hearing. Rock influences are very much evident too, and the singers are mic’d, asking questions about where ‘opera’ begins and ends.

Siân Evans’ libretto is occasionally a little too prosaic for this tale of transformation, reconciliation and renewal – Robert and Lena discover their son has been incredibly close to them all along, though not in a way we might have expected – and tackles perhaps a couple too many themes (everything from the history of gin – yes, gin – to modern-day slavery) but the story is just about always clear.

There is a thrilling immediacy in being so close to the performers, who have nowhere to hide in James Robert Carson’s simple but effective production, based round three stainless-steel tables. All give compelling performances under Chris Swaffer, conducting from his podium placed among the audience.

Navigate the Blood tours to distilleries across Scotland until 24 November. It will be interesting to see how it adapts to these non-theatre venues.

Reviewed by John Rivers

Performance Cast

Robert McCredie a distiller

Jamie MacDougall

Lena McCredie Robert's wife

Shuna Scott Sendall

Agata their Polish employee

Klaudia Korzeniewska


Seumas Begg

Performance DatesNavigate the Blood 2018

Map List

Glasgow Distillery | Glasgow

2 Nov, 19.30 3 Nov, 19.30

Oban Distillery | Oban, Argyll

8 Nov, 19.30

Glen Scotia Distillery | Campbeltown

9 Nov, 19.30

Ardnahoe Distillery | Isle of Islay

11 Nov, 15.00

Blair Athol Distillery | Pitlochry

16 Nov, 19.30

Lost Loch Distillery | Aboyne, Aberdeenshire

17 Nov, 19.00 18 Nov, 13.00

Summerhall, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

21 Nov, 19.30

Speyside Gins at La Taverna | Aviemore

24 Nov, 19.00 25 Nov, 13.00

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