Scottish Opera has unveiled its 2019/20 season which includes a European premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival, three further new productions, one revival, six titles in the Opera in Concert series, and the world premiere of a new ‘opera for toddlers’ at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
A truly international line-up of singers appears throughout the season.
Making their debuts with the Company are Trevor Eliot Bowes, Orla Boylan, Wallis Giunta, Eric Greene, Byron Jackson and Sydney Mancasola.
There are welcome return visits from Evez Abdulla, Mark Le Brocq, Richard Burkhard, Emma Carrington, Sioned Gwen Davies, Aidan Edwards, Jennifer France, Morten Grove Frandsen, Ric Furman, Justina Gringyte, Katie Grosset, Aled Hall, Hanna Hipp, Charlotte Hoather, Paul Carey Jones, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Ellie Laugharne, Jessica Leary, Hye-Youn Lee, Nicholas Lester, Jamie MacDougall, Ben McAteer, William Morgan, Lancelot Nomura, Clare Presland, Sarah Pring, Daniel Keating-Roberts, Duncan Rock, Natalya Romaniw, David Shipley, Michel de Souza, Julia Sporsén, David Stout, Richard Suart, Elgan Llyr Thomas, Freddie Tong, Sinéad Campbell-Wallace, Roland Wood and Dingle Yandell.
Alex Reedijk, general director, said: ‘This season, Scottish Opera brings a diverse range of titles, including 12 operas, to audiences in over 50 venues all over Scotland and beyond. From 20th century masterpieces by Benjamin Britten and John Adams to much-loved works by Gilbert & Sullivan and Puccini, and an intriguing Opera in Concert series curated by music director Stuart Stratford, there is a wonderful array of operatic fare.
‘Directing our full-scale productions are five great talents: Jonathan Cocker, who is reviving Anthony’s Besch’s iconic Tosca which opens the Season; John Fulljames; Dominic Hill; Tom Morris and Stuart Maunder.
‘Creative partnerships are crucial to what we do, so it’s thrilling to be working alongside festivals, companies and opera houses locally, nationally and internationally. The Company is greatly looking forward to returning to the Lammermuir Festival, and to taking Missy Mazzoli’s sensational Breaking the Waves to the Edinburgh International Festival.
‘The ever-inventive Outreach and Education Department builds on the success of our work for young children with the world premiere of Fox-tot!, by the brilliant, young Scottish composer Lliam Paterson, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Scottish Opera Young Company returns to the stage with Sondheim; we present three Dementia Friendly performances as well as Spinning Songs and Memory Spinners workshops; and we tour Pop-up Opera, The Opera Factory and our Primary Schools Tour.’
Stuart Stratford, Scottish Opera Music director, added: ‘We are committed to exploring some lesser known repertoire in our Opera in Concert performances, and I am delighted that we are continuing our Mascagni odyssey with a double bill of Zanetto, performed with Wolf- Ferrari’s Susanna’s Secret. Mascagni’s Iris is also not to be missed, and the series comes full circle to finish with Cavalleria rusticana, the piece that catapulted Mascagni to success.
‘It is paired with Leoncavallo’s Zingari. Another rarity can be heard in our semi-staged performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Utopia, Limited, which stands alongside our new touring production of The Gondoliers.
‘I am thrilled our new season gets underway at the Edinburgh International Festival with the European premiere of Breaking the Waves by the exciting American composer, Missy Mazzoli. Nixon in China is another modern American classic. It still resonates with today’s global politics, and it changed the rulebook of what contemporary opera could be. John Adams’ soundworld continues to influence generations of new composers. Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream completes our trio of work from the 20th and 21st centuries, with a new staging by Citizens Theatre artistic director, Dominic Hill.’
Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves has its European premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival in August.
Tony Award-winning Tom Morris, Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic, whose previous work includes War Horse, Touching the Void, and The Death of Klinghoffer at English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, New York, directs this dark and daring opera. Set and costume designs are by Soutra Gilmour.
Based on Lars von Trier’s award-winning film, Mazzoli’s opera caused a sensation when it premiered in 2016, winning the 2017 Best New Opera Award from the Music Critics Association of North America. It was also shortlisted for an International Opera Award.
The opera, with a libretto by Royce Vavrek, tells the story of Bess, a young woman living in a deeply religious community in the Scottish Highlands in the 1970s. The cast includes American soprano Sydney Mancasola, Edinburgh-born baritone Duncan Rock and Irish-Canadian mezzo Wallis Giunta, winner of the 2018 International Opera Awards’ Young Singer of the Year. Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford conducts.
Co-presented by Opera Ventures, Scottish Opera and Edinburgh International Festival, Breaking the Waves is a co-production with Opera Ventures and Houston Grand Opera, in association with Bristol Old Vic. It has been made possible with support from Howard and Sarah Solomon Foundation, Denise Coates Foundation, Karl Sydow, Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and a syndicate of donors.
Puccini’s Tosca, in a production originally directed by Anthony Besch and designed by Peter Rice in 1980, opens Scottish Opera’s main season in October. Set in 1940s Rome, in the shadow of Mussolini’s dictatorship, this ill-fated romance plays out against a backdrop of political corruption and intrigue.
Revived by director Jonathan Cocker and conducted by Stuart Stratford, this much-loved production stars Natalya Romaniw (Eugene Onegin 2018) in the title role, Gwyn Hughes Jones (Il trovatore 2015) as Cavaradossi and Roland Wood (Pelléas & Mélisande 2017) as Scarpia. Tosca is supported by The Scottish Opera Syndicate.
In February, John Fulljames, Director of Opera at The Royal Danish Theatre, directs John Adams’ iconic opera, Nixon in China, inspired by President Richard Nixon’s much-publicised 1972 visit to Communist China. A Scottish Opera premiere, this is a new co-production with The Royal Danish Theatre and Teatro Real Madrid.
Acclaimed Portuguese conductor Joana Carneiro leads an exciting cast including Eric Greene as Richard Nixon; Julia Sporsén (Ariadne auf Naxos 2018); Mark Le Brocq (Anthropocene 2019); Nicholas Lester (The Trial 2017) and Hye-Youn Lee (La bohème 2017). The libretto is by Alice Goodman and the designer is Dick Bird (The Mikado 2016).
Dominic Hill, artistic director of the Citizens Theatre, returns to Scottish Opera to direct Benjamin Britten’s atmospheric A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is joined by designer Tom Piper, famed for the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London. Stuart Stratford conducts a cast that includes David Shipley (Rigoletto 2018), a recent graduate of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme; countertenor Morten Grove Frandsen, a winner of Denmark’s Reumert Talent prize; former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Jennifer France (Anthropocene 2019); and Scottish tenor and BBC broadcaster Jamie MacDougall (Ariadne auf Naxos 2018).
Audiences also have the chance to see a new work by Scottish Opera Composer in Residence, Samuel Bordoli, titled Hermia’s Nightmare. Performed in the foyer before each show, it explores scenes from Shakespeare’s play that were not included by Britten in his score. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is supported by The Alexander Gibson Circle.
The 2019/20 season closes with Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, directed by Stuart Maunder, artistic director at State Opera South Australia, and designed by Dick Bird (The Mikado 2016). The whimsical opera, in a new co-production with D’Oyly Carte Opera and State Opera South Australia, tells the story of two happy-go-lucky gondoliers who discover that one of them is, in fact, heir to the throne of a distant kingdom.
Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark, conducts an ensemble cast that includes ENO Harewood Artist William Morgan (The Magic Flute 2019), Ellie Laugharne (The Pirates of Penzance 2013), Ben McAteer (The Mikado 2016), Sioned Gwen Davies (Rigoletto 2018) and G&S favourite Richard Suart (The Mikado 2016). As well as performances in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh, The Gondoliers tours to London’s Hackney Empire. This production is supported by Scottish Opera’s ‘Play A Supporting Role’ Appeal.
Opera in Concert
Scottish Opera Music Director, Stuart Stratford, has once again curated a programme of rarely-performed works in this Season’s Opera in Concert series, supported by the Scottish Opera Endowment Trust and the Friends of Scottish Opera. The semi-staged performances explore further the verismo works of Pietro Mascagni and a lesser-known piece by Gilbert & Sullivan in several firsts for Scottish Opera, and for Scotland.
In September, the Company returns to the award-winning Lammermuir Festival in East Lothian with a double-bill of Mascagni’s Zanetto (a Scottish Opera premiere) and Susanna’s Secret by Wolf-Ferrari. Soloists including Sinéad Campbell-Wallace, Hanna Hipp (Kátya Kabanová 2019), Richard Burkhard (The Magic Flute 2019) and Clare Presland (Rusalka 2016) are conducted by David Parry (La traviata 2017), and directed by Rosie Purdie.
Performed in the beautiful, mediaeval St Mary’s Parish Church in Haddington, the venue for 2018’s Scottish Opera performance of The Burning Fiery Furnace, Zanetto is set in the hills above Renaissance Florence, and tells the story of Silvia, a lonely courtesan who has lost her faith in love, until she meets a wandering minstrel.
It is performed alongside the sophisticated and charming Susanna’s Secret, the perfect comedic contrast, in which a husband who smells smoke on his wife’s clothes accuses her of cheating.
In December, Opera in Concert features the Scottish Opera premiere of Mascagni’s Iris at City Halls, Glasgow. A gripping tale of innocence lost, Iris includes the stunning ‘Hymn to the Sun’, which is often hailed as the composer’s finest writing. Stuart Stratford conducts soloists including Ric Furman (Kátya Kabanová 2019), Natalya Romaniw (Eugene Onegin 2018) and Roland Wood (Pelléas and Mélisande 2017). Roxana Haines (Edgar 2018) directs.
The passionate and lyrical Cavalleria rusticana by Mascagni is performed in May 2020 at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. Telling the tale of a young Sicilian villager who returns from war to find his fiancée has married someone else, conductor Stuart Stratford has chosen to pair it with Leoncavallo’s lesser-known work Zingari, another Scottish Opera premiere. With a parallel narrative that sees another love triangle go disastrously wrong, Zingari is based on Pushkin’s The Gypsies. Orpha Phelan directs soloists including Evez Abdulla, Justina Gringyte and Julia Sporsén.
The Opera in Concert series ends with a semi-staged performance of Utopia, Limited. A new co-production with D’Oyly Carte Opera and State Opera South Australia, this Scottish Opera premiere has an updated libretto by director Stuart Maunder, and a new musical version by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark, who also conducts. Wittily satirising the British Empire’s politics, monarchy and press, Gilbert & Sullivan’s penultimate opera is performed by the cast of The Gondoliers, and designed by Dick Bird. Utopia, Limited tours to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Hackney Empire in London.
Supported by the Friends of Scottish Opera, the ever-popular Opera Highlights goes on the road again this Season, visiting 34 venues around Scotland from Stonehaven to Stranraer, in Autumn 2019 and Spring 2020. The varied programme of music curated by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark, sees four singers and a pianist perform works by Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Gilbert & Sullivan, and a new piece by Scottish Opera Composer in Residence Samuel Bordoli.
Roxana Haines (Edgar 2018) directs two different casts of exciting new talent including Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists for 2019/20 – soprano Charlie Drummond, former young artist at the National Opera Studio; baritone Mark Nathan, recent graduate from the Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; and baritone Arthur Bruce, a former member of the Scottish Opera Young Company also recently graduated from the RCS Opera School.
Fox-tot! – an opera for toddlers
The world premiere of Fox-tot!, a new opera for toddlers aged one to two, is presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer. It has been written by Lliam Paterson, composer of the acclaimed BambinO, which last year toured to Paris and New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and is directed by Roxana Haines (Edgar 2018).
For this new Scottish Opera co-commission with Royal & Derngate, Northampton, Lliam has taken inspiration from French baroque dances and contemporary opera. A little fox goes on an adventure to explore the world and learn to see through the eyes of other creatures. Stretched out in the sun as a cat, soaring in the sky as a butterfly, it’s fun to be someone else. But, as Mother Vixen guides her cub’s journey, will the little one discover what it takes to become an excellent fox?
Designed by Giuseppe Belli and Emma Belli (BambinO 2017), the 45-minute show is an engaging mix of music and puppetry, performed by mezzo-soprano and former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Katie Grosset (The Opera Factory 2018), and countertenor Daniel Keating-Roberts (The 8th Door 2017). They are joined by cellist Laura Sergeant and percussionist Michael D Clark, who both performed in BambinO.
Following the Edinburgh Festival Fringe dates at Edinburgh Academy, Fox-tot! tours to Royal and Derngate, Northampton in August and September, and around Scotland in spring 2020.
Fox-tot! is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels, New Commissions Circle and using public funding by Arts Council England.Scottish Opera Young Company, for 17 to 25 year olds, will perform Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along in Glasgow in the Spring of 2020. Young Company Artistic Director Jonathon Swinard conducts Sondheim’s multi-Olivier Award-winning work, which was specifically written for young adult voices.
A dark tale of ambition and disillusion, it tells the story of Franklin Shepard whose career has seen him go from penniless composer to Hollywood impresario. Merrily We Roll Along is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.
Three brilliant Pop-up Opera shows hit the road this summer in Scottish Opera’s specially adapted trailer at festivals and events around Scotland: A Little Bit of Iolanthe (supported by The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust), A Little Bit of Magic Flute, and Puffy McPuffer and The Crabbit Canals, for five to eight year olds. Each performance is 25 minutes long and brought to life by storyteller Ross Stenhouse, sopranos Jessica Leary and Charlotte Hoather, baritone Aidan Edwards, instrumentalists and colourful illustrations.
The tour includes Perth Festival of the Arts, Dunfermline, Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, Old Kilpatrick, Barrhead, Giffnock, Borders Book Festival, Dirleton, Callander, Cupar Arts EDEN, Aboyne & Deeside Festival, Haddington Show and Glasgow Canal Festival. Pop-up Opera is supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.
The Scottish Opera Emerging Artists programme, which offers young talent a period of full-time work with the Company to help launch their careers, will this Season include soprano Charlie Drummond, baritones Arthur Bruce and Mark Nathan, and Samuel Bordoli who continues as Composer in Residence. The name of a costume trainee and repetiteur are still to be announced.
Emerging Artist singers perform in a number of this Season’s productions and tours, and in recitals at the University of St Andrews, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and University of Glasgow, and are supported by The Robertson Trust, Elizabeth Salvesen and Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artist Benefactors.
Scottish Opera Education and Outreach
Amadeus & The Bard is an original piece, conceived, written and directed by Mary McCluskey, former Artistic Director of Scottish Youth Theatre. It explores the surprising number of parallels between Mozart and Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
Performed by Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Arthur Bruce, soprano and Samling Young Artist Stephanie Stanway and renowned actor Andy Clark, alongside a four-voice ensemble from the Scottish Opera Young Company, the programme is curated by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark. It celebrates the work of the two 18th-century Enlightenment giants, from the magical and mystical in The Magic Flute and Tam O’ Shanter to the love music of Don Giovanni and A Red, Red Rose. The Music Director and pianist is Karen MacIver, one half of award-winning duo PianoPiano.
Amadeus & The Bard tours this Autumn to Earlston, Kirkcudbright, Annan, Cumnock, Ayr, Largs, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paisley. It is supported by Edith Rudinger Gray Charitable Trust and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.
In the spring and summer of 2020, the ever-popular Primary Schools Tour, for children in primaries five to seven, revives Warriors! The Emperor’s Incredible Army. It offers kids the chance to participate in high quality, day-long music theatre workshops, culminating in a performance for parents and guests. Commissioned in partnership with the five Scottish Confucius Institutes, music is by Alan Penman with words by Ross Stenhouse.
The Opera Factory, written and presented by Allan Dunn, returns this summer. Primary three pupils go on a whirlwind music adventure to find out how opera is made. The production is supported by online resources designed to reinforce key learning outcomes of A Curriculum for Excellence for Level 1.
Scottish Opera’s Community Choir, open to adults of all ages and conducted by Katy Lavinia Cooper, starts up again in September. The choir sings a mixture of opera, classical, popular, folk and world music, and meets every Wednesday at Theatre Royal Glasgow.
There will be three Dementia Friendly performances of Tosca, in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. This fully-staged, shortened version of the show features presenter Allan Dunn, The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and a cast of singers. Lighting levels in the auditorium are adjusted and audiences are able to come in and out of the auditorium or watch in the bar on TV screens if they prefer. Scottish Opera staged the UK’s first Dementia Friendly opera performance in November 2016, with The Marriage of Figaro at Festival Theatre Edinburgh.
Memory Spinners, shortlisted in the Best Community Initiative category of Scotland’s Dementia Awards 2017, continues to meet weekly in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Airdrie. The groups – for people living with dementia and their carers – help them relax and get creative using music, storytelling, movement and the visual arts.
Weekly Spinning Songs in East Kilbride and Edinburgh are also taking place. This new intergenerational project for pre-school and primary children and elderly people helps participants develop their musical and expressive arts skills to create original songs that reflect life in their local communities.
Insights into opera
Opera Unwrapped performances offer a one-hour opera taster, ideal for anyone curious to learn more about the art form, how a show is created or some backstage secrets. There are Unwrapped performances of Tosca, Nixon in China and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Audiences can also find out more about the opera they are seeing in pre-show talks. People with a visual impairment can enjoy the full opera experience at audio-described performances, where a live commentary describes the action on stage without compromising the music.
Further information on the 2019/20 Season can be found at www.scottishopera.org.uk.