Professional soloists and an orchestra join Paisley Opera’s full community chorus in their first ever full opera: a new production of Puccini’s romantic masterpiece, La Bohème.
And to make it unique, it will feature a new, specially commissioned ‘Paisley’ translation.
There will be four performances running from Friday 1 to Sunday 9 February 2019 in the University of West of Scotland, Paisley.
Conducted by Alistair Digges, the cast includes soprano Monica Toll (Mimi), soprano Rachael Brimley(Musetta), tenor William Branston (Rudolfo) and baritone Douglas Nairne (Marcello).
Directed by Fiona Williams, the production brings Puccini’s world-renowned opera to the heart of the community, setting it in Paisley and including the city’s history, culture, landmarks and language. Paisley Opera’s specially commissioned translation by Lindsay Bramley, is laced with local dialect and references.
Paisley Opera Chorus is now over 40 voices strong. From those who have only ever sung in the shower to seasoned music lovers, and the singers range from sixteen to the over sixties. As well as the professional singers, they will be joined by pupils from Bushes Primary School and some of the the chorus will sing smaller roles.
Simon Hannigan, founder of Paisley Opera, said: ‘We wanted to build on the momentum of our hugely successful ‘Witches of Paisley’ project by producing Paisley Opera’s first fully staged full-length opera. We talked to many friends and our volunteers about what we should do and kept coming back to La Bohème.
‘It’s one of the most popular operas ever written because not only does it have some of the greatest music ever written, but it has very real characters and a plot that is beautiful, heart-breaking and believable.
‘Paisley Opera is about being inclusive and making opera accessible to all kinds of people, so it seemed only natural to commission a new translation where the characters sing in everyday modern English.
‘The translation has been tailored to suit each individual soloist so that they are singing with their own voice. The chorus speaks in the language you are likely to hear on the streets of Paisley. The story is a powerful and relevant tale of people living in Paisley in 2019.’
Fiona Williams added: ‘Puccini’s tale is of very ordinary people from all walks of life, just like Paisley Opera. The production features students, flatmates, Christmas shoppers, football fans: people that we can all relate to which helps deliver this emotional charged story.
‘Audience members will recognise local landmarks and even be able to cheer on a very special St Mirren win! The production is very interactive, with the audience following the action from one space to another. We’re recreating the city centre – complete with a lively Christmas market – in the foyer of UWS. Audiences will even be able to do a spot of shopping at the interval.’
Librettist Lindsay Bramley said: ‘I was very keen that the characters should all speak in a relatively natural voice for them, so once the casting was complete I asked for little clips of all the singers just speaking in their natural voice so that I could get a feel for their speech patterns.
‘One of the things that I really wanted to play with was how much fun the main characters find in their quite tough lives, right up until the point that tragedy strikes…’
The cast are: Mimi, Monica Toll; Musetta, Rachael Brimley; Rudolfo, William Branston; Marcello, Douglas Nairne; Schaunard, Wesley Biggs; Colline, Piran Legg; Benoit/Alcindoro, Paul Anwyl; Parpignol, Ronnie Lamont.
Creative team: conductor, Alistair Digges; director, Fiona Williams.
Performances: Friday 1 and Thursday 7 February at 7pm; Sunday 3 and Saturday 9 February at 3pm.
The productions are being stages at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) High Street, Paisley.Full price tickets are £14, children 16 and under £5 (other concessions available; check box office site) and are available from Paisley Arts Centre box office HERE.
For part of the performance the audience will follow the action from one space to another. For this part, the seating will be limited to those who are unable to stand and are not wheelchair users. Please inform the box office if you are in this group.