Opera Highlights, a programme of operatic favourites and must-hear rarities by Scottish Opera, is set to visit 17 venues across the country, Scotland’s national opera company has announced.

Following a series of successful performances in autumn 2019, the tour will be back on the road from 2 February. It is set to travel the length and breadth of Scotland from Lerwick, Shetland, in the north-east to Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway, in the south-west.

The spring programme is the same as the autumn tour, but with a new cast. The setting is a garden party to which four guests – and the entire audience – have been invited. It is directed by Roxana Haines, Scottish Opera’s staff director, and the company’s Head of Music Derek Clark.

Haines commented: “After a successful autumn tour I am pleased to revive this Opera Highlights show, where the cast cordially invite you to a party on your doorstep. This spring we have a brand new cast to guide you through our story which takes place in luscious gardens and magical flora and fauna of opera. The stage has been set, decorations unpacked and the guests have all arrived, but the problem is we’re still not sure whose party this is.”

Music direction comes from Scottish Opera 2019-20 Emerging Artist repetiteur Michael Papadopoulos, who is also the pianist. He is joined by soprano Zoe Drummond, mezzo-soprano Jade Moffat, tenor Andrew Irwin and baritone Arthur Bruce, the Robertson Trust Scottish Opera Emerging Artist this season.

The garden-themed music includes highlights from Mozart’s La finta giardiniera (The Pretend Garden-Girl, 1775) and The Magic Flute (1791), as well as ‘Give him this orchid’ from Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia (1946), the ever-popular ‘Flower duet’ from Deliebes’s Lakmé (1883) and the quintessentially English duet ‘Blue larkspur in a garden’ from Vaughan Williams’s The Poisoned Kiss (1936).

It also features a number of pieces that rarely get an airing, most notably music from the recently rediscovered Ethelinda (1894) by Victorian female composer Mildred Jessup, as well as a new commission for the entire ensemble from Scottish Opera’s resident composer Samuel Bordoli.

“As the evening progresses, the connections between our characters unravel through music from the likes of Handel, Donizetti and Mozart, and lighter pieces from Gilbert and Sullivan and Vaughan Williams, as well as a new work by Samuel Bordoli,” Haines continued. “Prepare for an evening of charm, magic and love in all its operatic forms in a show that highlights the joy and absurdity of opera.”

The spring tour begins in Bathgate, then visits Birnam, Markinch, Campbeltown, Bowmore, Arrochar, Bunessan, Arisaig, Beauly, Cumnock, Castle Douglas, Callander, Lerwick, Peebles, Fochabers, Alford and Rutherglen. Tickets are on sale now.



Opera Highlights will go on tour again later this year with a new cast (Julie Broadfoot).