Scottish Opera’s new vaudeville-inspired production of its Opera Highlights series is set to tour 18 local venues around Scotland.
The show features a series of operatic vignettes from well-known classics such as Britten’s Billy Budd (1951), Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (1893), Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (The Bat, 1874) and Puccini’s La bohème (The Bohemians, 1896), as well as some lesser-known gems and even a world premiere.
A high point of the show will be the first ever performance of a new piece by Sutherland-born composer and performer Lucie Treacher. The quartet – entitled ‘To the Lighthouse’ and composed in 2020 – weaves together scenes from the 1927 novel of the same name by Virginia Woolf.
Director John Savournin and Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark have weaved together many different melodies to create a single fast-paced and heartfelt show. The original narrative celebrates the grit and glamour of old-fashioned vaudeville in a romantic, buoyant and at times bittersweet story of art, life and love.
Savournin directs a cast that features Scottish soprano Monica McGhee as soloist. Also starring in the production are French mezzo-soprano Margo Arsane and Chinese tenor Shengzhi Ren, both former Scottish Opera Emerging Artists, and British baritone Dan Shelvey. Both Arsane and Ren were scheduled to take part in the 2020 Opera Highlights tour, which was cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Mark Sandon joins the singers as pianist and the show’s music director.
“There is such a rich variety of repertoire in this season’s Opera Highlights – Puccini to operetta, to a newly commissioned piece by up-and-coming Scottish composer Lucie Treacher – and I’m so excited to create a fun, visual world full of performance magic,” Savournin commented.
The Edwardian-inspired production features designs by Janis Hart. It offers audiences the opportunity to hear more than 300 years of music in one evening.
Opera Highlights opens at Websters Theatre in Glasgow’s West End on 8 February. It then visits Birnam Arts Centre, Perthshire (10 February), Midmar Public Hall, Aberdeenshire (12 February), Fochabers Public Institute, Moray (15 February), Duthac Centre, Tain (17 February), Assembly Rooms, Wick (19 February), Tarbert Community Centre, Isle of Harris (22 February), Carinish Village Hall, North Uist (24 February), Castlebay Hall, Isle of Barra (26 February), Craignish Village Hall, Argyll and Bute (1 March), Lochranza and Catacol Village Hall, Isle of Arran (3 March), Cove Burgh Hall, Argyll and Bute (5 March), Newton Stewart Cinema, Dumfries and Galloway (8 March), Corn Exchange, Melrose (10 March), Lockerbie Town Hall, Dumfries and Galloway (12 March), Walker Hall, Troon (15 March), and McClaren Hall, Killin (17 March), finishing at Cumbernauld Theatre at Lanternhouse, North Lanarkshire, on 19 March.
All performances take place at 7.30pm and tickets are on sale now from Scottish Opera’s website, costing from £15. The running time is around 2 hours, including an interval. See Scottish Opera’s website for more details. Opera Highlights is supported by The Friends of Scottish Opera and JTH Charitable Trust.
Scottish Opera General Director Alex Reedijk said: “I am thrilled that such a fine company of young performers is able to tour all across Scotland in the spring. I hope that this delightfully entertaining and vaudevillian-themed Opera Highlights will help to encourage our audiences to make a welcome and safe return to live performances, for the first time in two years in many cases.”
Scottish Opera has said that it is doing everything possible to keep audiences, performers and staff members safe amid the ongoing coronavirus health crisis. “All performances operate in line with the latest guidance from the Scottish government. We will send a pre-show email with any further information you might need prior to the performance,” the company said in a statement.
Scottish Opera’s new vaudeville-inspired production of its Opera Highlights show will tour to venues across Scotland this spring.