Over the last few years Scottish Opera has been taking to the highways and byways of Scotland bringing their Opera Highlights Tour to villages and towns, schools halls, community centres, and local theatres across the country. It’s a deceptively simple premise with four singers and a piano presenting various highlights from a wide range of operas framed around one uniting premise.
This time around Musical Director and pianist Elizabeth Rowe is joined by mezzo-soprano Heather Ireson, soprano Lucy Anderson, baritone Harry Thatcher and tenor Tom Smith. From Handel’s Rodelinda (1725) to Jonathan Dove’s Flight (1998) and visiting, among others, Mozart, Bizet, Wagner, Handel, Gilbert & Sullivan, and Gershwin & Weill along the way, they present a wide range of styles and themes which give a wonderfully diverse overview of what opera has to offer.
Scots Whay Hae! were at the Cumbernauld Theatre for the latest stop on 2019’s tour. Having seen the last three tours there were no doubts it would be a memorable evening, and that was proved right. The setlist this time around is built on the idea of the picaresque novel. The episodic structure of that format, and it’s often satirical content, is perfect for such a show allowing the leitmotifs of heroes, villains, love, longing and loss to come to the fore, and the cast revel in them.
A particular treat for audiences on such nights is to be so up close and personal with the performers, able to see and appreciate ever smile, smirk, and sideways glance much better than you could ever do in a larger space, which worked particularly well for the more comedic moments. What you also get is the full power of these incredible trained and professional voices. They are impressive enough when on their own, or in duet, but when all four work together, as in the ‘Garden Scene’ from Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana, or the opening ‘The Best Of All Possible Worlds’ from Leonard Bernstein’s adaptation of Voltaire’s Candide, then the effect is visceral and wonderful.
Indeed it is ‘Candide’, arguably the quintessential picaresque novella, that seemed to infuse the spirit of the whole evening. Published in 1759, and written to satirise the central optimistic/naive tenet of the 17th century philosopher Leibniz, (paraphrased in the words of Candide’s teacher and mentor ‘Dr Pangloss’ that, “everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds”), its arguments against such a quixotic attitude are as relevant today as they are in any time of turmoil. With poignant references to the modern world director Sara Brodie makes sure that the spirit of Voltaire runs throughout.
Below are some pictures of the production, as well as the future dates of the tour with links as to where you can buy tickets. Don’t miss out…
With thanks to Scottish Opera for the images – Credit to Sally Jubb
Craignish Village Hall, ARDFERN, Tue 12 Feb BOOK TICKETS
Northbay Hall, ISLE OF BARRA, Thu 14 Feb BOOK TICKETS
Liniclate School, BENBECULA, Sat 16 Feb BOOK TICKETS
Tarbert Community Centre, ISLE OF HARRIS, Tue 19 Feb BOOK TICKETS
Community Hall, GAIRLOCH, Thu 21 Feb BOOK TICKETS
Community Hall, ARDROSS, Sat 23 Feb BOOK TICKETS
Volunteer Hall, DUNS, Tue 26 Feb BOOK TICKETS
Blairgowrie Town Hall, BLAIRGOWRIE, Thu 28 Feb BOOK TICKETS
Town Hall, MAYBOLE, Sat 2 Mar BOOK TICKETS
Village Hall, DURNESS, Tue 5 Mar BOOK TICKETS
Deeside Theatre, ABOYNE, Sat 9 Mar BOOK TICKETS
Boat of Garten Community Hall, BOAT OF GARTEN, Thu 7 Mar
Whiting Bay Village Hall, WHITING BAY, Tue 12 Mar BOOK TICKETS
Victoria Hall, DUNBLANE, Thu 14 Mar BOOK TICKETS
The Wynd Auditorium, PAISLEY, Sat 16 Mar BOOK TICKETS