Dundee’s newest arts festival – and Scotland’s first opera festival – will take place in the city’s Caird Hall and other venues across the city in September, it has been announced. Opera Festival Scotland will run from 22 to 25 September at Caird Hall and Marryat Hall, with smaller free events taking place at the V&A Museum Dundee, Dundee University, Dundee High School and the Wighton Heritage Centre.
Opera Festival Scotland comprises a mix of performances from professionals and community musicians, masterclasses and educational workshops. It was originally due to take place in September 2021 but had to be postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The highlight of the event is set to be the Young Artists Singing Competition. With the hopes of reaching the final to perform with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the competition received more than 100 applications from around the UK. Just four finalists were selected, and they will perform in front of live audiences and a high-profile panel of judges.
CEO of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Alistair Mackie commented: “We can’t wait to be back in the Caird Hall for the first ever Opera Festival Scotland. It’s an exciting opportunity for the RSNO to be accompanying the finalists performing in the Young Artists Singing Competition, and it’s brilliant to end the festival programme celebrating emerging talent.”
The festival is dedicated to promoting and encouraging talent from within the community, and so will also be hosting a singing competition for non-professionals. The 30+ Non-professional Singing Competition celebrates talented community singers, who chose an alternative career to music.
A special performance of opera’s greatest hits by Scottish Opera will open the festival. Featuring a troupe of talented singers including Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists, Opera Highlights combines repertoire favourites with lesser-known pieces.
Verdi’s opera Aida (1871) will be making its return to Dundee after almost 20 years. The ensemble comprises Tayside Opera, National Youth Choir of Scotland Dundee and Stonehaven Chorus, along with other talented individuals from the community.
This mix of professional, semi-professional and community singers takes on the challenge of grand opera, while also celebrating the learning that comes from working with such a diverse group. The festival is incredibly proud to provide an opportunity for locals to perform a piece of music they love and in one of Scotland’s most beautiful concert halls.
This production of Aida will be accompanied by educational workshops exploring the dramatic side of opera. High school students from across Dundee have been invited to take part in the workshops, which will focus on the various themes present in Aida, such as love, war, feminism and slavery, highlighting how relevant opera can be in a modern-day context. The students will also have an opportunity to attend the performance.
Learning and educational opportunities will also be available to members of the public. Scottish soprano and chair of voice at the Royal College of Music Janis Kelly will be giving a public masterclass during the festival.
International cultural organisation Opera For Peace will host a networking lecture in collaboration with Dundee University. The event will consider important topics such as equality and diversity while working in the arts, as well as giving vital career advice.
Opera Bohemia will stage a new English-language version of The Marriage of Figaro (1786, Mozart). The big day has arrived for Figaro and Susanna, but a catalogue of twists and turns threatens to spoil it all.
Michael Jamieson, festival founder and director, said: “A community project like this certainly takes a lot of time and work to put together, but the benefits will be seen. The festival aims to increase footfall and business to Dundee for the duration of that weekend.”
“The festival will bring back a much-needed boost to the opera community, especially as it links in with Tayside Opera, promoting this artform to youth and other community members where opera may not be easily accessed.”
Further details, including more events, venues, dates, times and tickets, are available from Opera Festival Scotland. Some events are free, but still require booking.
The Young Artists Singing Competition will be the finale of Opera Festival Scotland.