Trinidadian tenor Ronald Samm will sing the role of Canio (Photo: Julie Howden)
Trinidadian tenor Ronald Samm will sing the role of Canio (Photo: Julie Howden)

Scottish Opera goes from intense to in tents

Scottish Opera is bringing a new production to a location that wouldn’t normally be associated as a musical venue.

Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci opens on 26 July for three performances in a huge tented structure at Seedhill Playing Fields, dubbed Paisley Opera House.

This immersive promenade staging of one of the world’s most popular operatic works gives audiences the opportunity to experience opera in an exciting new way.

Staged festival-style with the audience following the action around the tent, this Pagliacci takes inspiration from commedia dell’arte and Paisley’s own Sma’ Shot Festival.

It stars a Community Chorus recruited from Renfrewshire and the surrounding areas, who will perform side-by-side with a cast of international soloists, a professional chorus and The Orchestra of Scottish Opera.

Visionary director Bill Bankes-Jones, founder of Tête à Tête Opera, marshals the company of nearly 200 for this all-encompassing spectacular that puts the audience at the heart of the action. Food, drink and pre-show entertainments are available for an hour before the show begins.

Sung in English, Pagliacci tells the story of Canio, the leader of a troupe of travelling players, who discovers his wife, Nedda, is having an affair. His jealousy erupts before an unsuspecting audience, as the play-within-a-play takes a tragic turn.

Trinidadian tenor Ronald Samm will sing the role of Canio (Photo: Julie Howden)

Making his Scottish Opera debut, Trinidadian tenor Ronald Samm will sing the role of Canio, ex-Samling Scholar Anna Patalong is Nedda, and Robert Hayward (Bluebeard’s Castle, 2017) will return to Scottish Opera as Tonio, the fool.

Scottish Opera favourite Samuel Dale Johnson (Eugene Onegin, 2018) is Silvio and leading Scottish character tenor Alasdair Elliott (Ariadne auf Naxos, 2018) is Beppe. Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford conducts.

The Community Chorus has been rehearsing in Scottish Opera’s Silver Cloud Studio in Hillington for six months, working with Assistant Director Lissa Lorenzo, Movement Director Alex McCabe and Community Chorus Master Katy Lavinia Cooper.

The members range in age from teenagers to those in their 60s and include a retired Paisley social worker, a student from Portugal and a supermarket employee.

Bill Bankes-Jones said: ‘I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in many operatic projects that have redefined working methods, and none has been more exciting than Pagliacci.

‘Witnessing and connecting with the creativity of our community performers, and knowing what else is to come make this absolutely the most thrilling project to work on. I am sure that we will all be blown away by the performances, they’ll be like nothing you have ever seen before.’

Chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, said: ‘We are very excited to welcome Scottish Opera’s production of Pagliacci to Paisley this summer. It will be great to see some of our local talented individuals and groups perform in what will surely be a fantastic and unique event at the aptly named Paisley Opera House.

‘The fact that Scottish Opera has chosen to bring this production to town shows how the legacy of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 is continuing to attract some of the finest artists and cultural organisations from around Scotland to Paisley to work with our local talent. It’s set to be a fantastic event and something totally different for the town.’

Samuel Dale Johnson and Anna Patalong at Pagliacci rehearsals (Photo: Julie Howden)

Ronnie Lamont, Pagliacci Community Chorus member who works as a driving instructor in Hamilton, added: ‘I am a member of Paisley Opera so I first heard about Pagliacci that way, and jumped at the chance to get involved. The rehearsals have been a lot of fun, and it’s a treat to work with professional singers as well as the creative team.

‘Having the opportunity to be a part of this Scottish Opera production is such a thrill and I can’t wait for audiences in Paisley to see this very special show.’

Audiences have the chance to see two of the Pagliacci leads Robert Hayward and Anna Patalong in action on Saturday 7 July at Paisley’s Sma’ Shot Festival, performing excerpts from Pagliacci, to give a taste of what to expect when the show opens a few weeks later in Paisley Opera House.

This production is supported by Scottish Opera Endowment Trust. Scottish Opera is grateful to Renfrewshire Council and Renfrewshire Leisure for their support in presenting Pagliacci.

Performances will take place at Paisley Opera House in the Seedhill Playing Fields, on Thurday 26 July, at 7pm; Saturday 28 July, at 7pm; and Sunday 29 July, at 3pm.

Doors open at 6pm for 7pm shows and 2pm for the 3pm show for food and entertainment.

Please note this is a promenade performance within a temporary venue. There will be very limited seating available on request for those who require it.