Celebrating Scottish Opera

Here local MSP Kenneth Gibson reports on the support the Scottish government provides for the performing arts in Scotland, in particular the Scottish Opera company who regularly bring performances to Arran in their national tours.

Every year, Scottish Opera runs their famous Opera Highlights tour around Scotland to bring a musical mix of operatic gems to venues the length and breadth of the country.

Scottish Opera’s most recent tour set off with a brand new show earlier this year as four singers and a pianist journeyed to 18 venues, which included a performance in Whiting Bay Village Hall.

Whilst we missed this one, due to commitments at Holyrood and Westminster, twice before Patricia Gibson MP and I have attended captivating performances in Brodick Hall.

Sara Brodie directed a programme of works by composers from across the centuries, including Handel, Gluck, Mozart, Verdi, and Bernstein, carefully curated by Scottish Opera’s head of music Derek Clark. The group included some of Scottish Opera’s emerging artists and performed several of opera’s best-known arias, alongside some old favourites.

Described as “an evening of frivolities, folly and flirtation,” audiences were transported to the depths of the underworld, to Paris at dawn, a Viennese masked ball and a tryst by the Thames.

This latest visit to the Isle of Arran came after the incredible success of Opera Highlights’ previous tours.

Opera Highlights will soon be on the road again as the show visits 34 venues over autumn 2019 and spring 2020, in a show full with operatic classics and must-hear hidden treasures. This new tour will once again traverse Scotland, from Cumnock and Campbeltown, to Thurso and Tain. Sadly, Arran will not be included next time!

Scottish Opera is one of five national performing arts companies funded by the SNP Government. With £8 million of funding in 2017/18, Scottish Opera’s considerable reputation for productions of sublime quality, alongside world-leading opera education programmes, means they appeal to a varied audience and are able to programme a range of main-stage opera, as well as commission new work.

They also run a highly successful programme Memory Spinners for people living with dementia, which encourages participants to be creative and share memories. This programme uses visual arts, music, storytelling and movement to engage and connect with people living with dementia who incorporate shared memories into relaxed performances for friends and family.

Scottish Opera, as well as the country’s other National Performing Companies such as Scottish Ballet and the National Theatre of Scotland, make a significant contribution to Scotland’s cultural life, which extends far beyond our borders. Celebrating opera and bringing it to rural and island communities such as Arran through Opera Highlights is a vital part of this cultural landscape which will, I believe, continue to grow and thrive in the years ahead.

Poster from the Scottish Opera Highlights tour earlier in 2019. Feature image shows singers during a performance on tour.