• Sir David McVicar returns to Scottish Opera to design and direct a new outdoor production of Verdi’s Falstaff
  • Pop-up Opera takes two specially-adapted trailers on the road with over 200 performances of five Gilbert & Sullivan shows: The Pirates of PenzanceThe GondoliersThe MikadoHMS Pinafore and Iolanthe
  • Roxana Haines directs the latest Scottish Opera: On Screen, Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore
  • Live in South Lanarkshire, an operatic film from Rutherglen Town Hall, reminding communities that local venues are ready to open their doors as soon as restrictions are eased

Scottish Opera announces two films, along with plans to bring live opera back to audiences with outdoor performances in the summer, in alignment with the Scottish Government timeline for easing restrictions.

World renowned Scottish director Sir David McVicar, who last worked with Scottish Opera on his UK Theatre Award-winning production of Pelléas and Mélisande, returns to design and direct an outdoor production of Verdi’s Falstaff. Following a five-star run of outdoor performances of La bohème in the Company’s Edington Street Carpark in Glasgow last September, Scottish Opera presents Falstaff at the same location, and anticipates announcing further dates in Edinburgh in coming weeks. In this co-production with Santa Fe Opera, who also perform outdoors, Sir David McVicar ambitiously transforms the outdoor space to provide a stunning production of Verdi’s comic opera, sung in English, in a translation by Amanda Holden. Featuring an outstanding cast, including Roland Wood (La bohème 2020)Elizabeth Llewellyn (La bohème 2020), Phillip Rhodes (Hansel and Gretel 2021), Elgan Llŷr Thomas (Breaking the Waves 2019), Gemma Summerfield (The Magic Flute 2018), Louise Winter (In the Locked Room 2012), Sioned Gwen Davies (The Diary of One Who Disappeared 2020), Jamie MacDougall (Ariadne auf Naxos 2018), Aled Hall (Tosca 2019) and Alastair Miles (Pelléas and Mélisande 2017).

In summer, Scottish Opera is back on the road bringing opera to local communities with its hugely popular Pop-up Opera tour, with five brilliant bite-size Gilbert & Sullivan shows. Condensing the fun-filled classics and all their frivolity into 25 minute performances of A Little Bit of… The Gondoliers, The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, HMS Pinafore and Iolanthe, two specially-adapted trailers take to the road at the same time, attracting expected audiences of over 12,000, assuming seating in bubbles, with plans to be on the road by 8 June subject to Scottish Government guidelines. Popping up at a variety of iconic and surprising venues across Scotland and featuring some of Gilbert & Sullivan’s wittiest lyrics and best- known tunes, it’s an ideal opportunity for anyone new to opera to try a taster. The final leg of the tour, running throughout September, will offer a double bill of shows including the Pirates of Penzance and a revival of A Little Bit of Bubble McBea. Aimed at children in Primary 1 to 3, Bubble McBea deals with environmental issues in the coasts around Scotland, raising awareness of sea pollution in the run up to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

Following the success of Così fan tutte in December, Roxana Haines turns to her next filmed performance of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore as part of the Scottish Opera: On Screen programme. Filmed at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal on 22 May 2021, it will be available to watch on the Scottish Opera website from 18 June. Before then, BBC Radio Scotland features audio excerpts from the performance as part of a special Classics Unwrapped, presented by Jamie MacDougall, on Sunday 13 June. Director, Roxana Haines explains how she has chosen to embrace the Austen era, ‘when social distancing was a natural part of daily etiquette’, for a charming production packed full of comedy and touching romance. Featuring Scottish Opera’s Emerging Artists* Catriona HewitsonShengzhi Ren and Arthur Bruce alongside guest principals Roland Wood (La bohème 2020), Elena Garrido Madrona (in collaboration with Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Alexander Gibson Opera School) and an impressive 18 strong chorus.

On Friday 23 April, Scottish Opera releases Live in South Lanarkshire, a film of operatic favourites. The Company’s 2020 Opera Highlights performance at Rutherglen Town Hall was the last indoor performance for a live audience in the theatre, before the pandemic forced venues to close their doors over a year ago. However, this special one-off film gives Scottish Opera the key to Rutherglen Town Hall, to take advantage of the stunning surroundings in a celebration of local venues, encouraging communities to return as soon as guidelines allow. Filmed on 24 March, Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark is joined by Emerging Artists Margo Arsane and Catriona Hewitson for a playlist including Bizet’s Carmen, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and more from the likes of Puccini, Mozart and Delibes, with an introduction from Rutherglen Town Hall’s Venue Manager, Colin McWilliams. In association with South Lanarkshire Council, Live in South Lanarkshire will be available to watch on Scottish Opera’s website.

Scottish Opera’s General DirectorAlex Reedijksaid: ‘I am delighted that we are preparing to bring live music back to audiences following almost a year without live opera. Falstaff will be a love letter to our glorious art form, with over 120 people working together on the production. Sir David McVicar offers an amazing vision for our carpark as he directs and designs an ingenious show with exquisite 17th century period costumes, promising an evening of comedy, pathos and pure entertainment. Adding to what is sure to be a summer like no other, Pop-up Opera will tour to communities across Scotland for over 200 performances in two specially adapted trailers, offering double the fun for double the audiences.

Before then, and as we continue to make our way out of the pandemic, we are very happy to add to our collection of filmed performances, with L’elisir d’amore and Live in South Lanarkshire. We plan to be back in theatres presenting live opera as soon as restrictions allow, but in the meantime we are thrilled to be able to offer outdoor, live performances again.’

Scottish Opera’s Music Director, Stuart Stratford, said: ‘I am so excited that we are able offer outdoor, live opera to audiences across Scotland once again with Falstaff and Pop-up opera. Even more so that we have the opportunity to work with Sir David McVicar on Falstaff for what is sure to be a visual and musical feast.  Sir David’s creativity and passion is immersed in every aspect of the production and his spectacular vision for our carpark location will make the audience experience even more visceral and immediate, especially in this outdoor setting. As Verdi’s last great work the piece contains all the fabulous searing melodies, raw emotion and comedy which brings together our incredible world-class cast and orchestra.

‘I am delighted that until then we can continue to provide performance through our Scottish Opera: On Screen programme, with L’elisir d’amore and Live in South Lanarkshire. As one of Donizetti’s most loved operas, L’elisir d’amore’s enchanting melodies embody this delightful romantic comedy for a truly fun and uplifting opera.’