Opera Stars Perform Favourites
by Alastair Hamilton -
On 28 February, Lerwick’s Garrison Theatre will once again welcome performers from Scottish Opera, who’ll be performing favourites from Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Bernstein’s Candide alongside some lesser known treasures.
Scottish Opera was founded in 1962 by Alexander Gibson, the Motherwell-born conductor who made his name with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Sadler’s Wells before becoming the longest-serving conductor of what is now the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Today, his name lives on in the Alexander Gibson School of Opera, which opened in 1998, three years after his death.
The first production was of Puccini’s eternally popular Madama Butterfly at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow. The company quickly established a strong reputation and, in 1975, moved into its present home, the city’s Theatre Royal. Sir Alexander Gibson, as he became, was committed to bringing opera to all corners of Scotland and its large-scale productions tour to larger venues in Scotland, including Aberdeen and Inverness, and the north of England. Smaller ensembles bring the company’s singers to smaller venues in the Borders, northern Scotland and the islands. The commitment to accessible opera has included a specially-adapted, dementia-friendly production of The Marriage of Figaro.
On this year’s Opera Highlights tour, audiences are invited to an evening of magnificent music; as well as Bernstein, Mozart and Rossini there will pieces by Britten, Gilbert & Sullivan and Britten.
The team that’s bringing the tour to Shetland consists of Máire Flavin (soprano); Catherine Backhouse (mezzo-soprano); William Morgan (tenor); Benjamin Lewis (baritone); and Patrick Milne (pianist and music director), with Jack Furness as director. They’ll be packing their bags full of props and costumes and will be travelling the length and breadth of the country, equipped with a piano, a suitcase full of music and a sense of adventure, to bring audiences an unforgettable night at the opera.
It seems that a behind-the-scenes sub-plot, which connects the musical elements, will also unfold during the evening as we follow the twists and turns in the tale of two stage managers as they deal with the outrageous demands of their opera stars. As one audience member who’s already seen this year’s tour put it, we can expect “a wonderful selection of music, superb vocalists, a magnificent pianist and a very clever story".
It seems like a perfect way to hear some wonderful music in a relaxed and intimate setting, and tickets, which can be booked here, are just £12, or £5 for those under 26.
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