Breaking new ground by making opera accessible to all

Paisley Opera’s latest production is being performed this weekend.

The show will take place in Paisley Abbey, Paisley today, Friday, 8 December, and tomorrow, Saturday 9 December.

The show The Witches of Paisley is a dramatisation of the terrible events of the last ever major witch hunt in Western Europe, set to some of the greatest operatic music ever written.

The Witches of Paisley will be performed this weekend

The specially-devised production will tell the story of the tragic happenings of the witch trials in and around Paisley in 1697 which led to the execution and burning of seven innocent people for the crime of ‘witchcraft’. The performances will seek to express the atmosphere surrounding the events and the emotions of the people caught up in them through singing, dance and drama.

Paisley Opera’s motto is passion, not posh and the company was born out of a passionate belief that opera can speak directly to anyone and everyone.

It brings together as many local amateur singers, technical and backstage volunteers as it can, with professional singers, musicians and technicians who all donate their time.

Paisley Opera is bringing music where it wouldn’t normally be expected

Its professional singers have worked with companies such as Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, English National Opera and The Royal Opera House.

Artistic director Simon Hannigan moved to Paisley in 2010 and instantly fell in love with the town, becoming more and more convinced that Paisley is an ideal place for this project.

The Witches of Paisley will be performed in Paisley Abbey

He said: ‘We have already got off to a great start since our first rehearsal at the end of February with a core of great volunteer singers, some experienced and some trying it for the first time: all are welcome as we believe that everyone, given the right help, can sing and should have the chance to.

‘Too many people say to me “I can’t sing…”, they’ve so often been told this at school or elsewhere, but they can… we all have a voice!

‘Paisley Opera is about making opera in accessible places that welcome people – and that means often unpredictable and unusual places such as the supermarket or shopping mall.

‘We are all about opening our doors and inviting people in to watch our work and to work with us. It means sharing a great art with great people. It’s a different way of making opera and it needs you to come and be part.’

To find out, contact Simon Hannigan on 07702 424528 email