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Scottish Opera Reveals A Programme Of Outdoor Socially-distanced Performances

24th August 2020

Photograph of Scottish Opera Reveals A Programme Of Outdoor Socially-distanced Performances

Following the Scottish Government's update to the route map out of the Covid-19 crisis, Scottish Opera is thrilled to announce a programme of seated outdoor performances, including a special production of Puccini's La bohème and Pop-up Opera performances of Mozart's Don Giovanni, Gilbert & Sullivan's The Gondoliers and a new work, The Song of the Clyde, by Scottish composer Karen MacIver.

These performances, the first with live audiences in over six months, are in addition to a live online stream on Friday 18 September of Janáček's The Diary of One Who Disappeared, just announced as part of the Lammermuir Festival.

With a run of performances for both La bohème and the three Pop-up Operas, the Company brings live opera back to the stage with appropriate physical distancing observed at all times by performers, backstage staff and audiences.

Puccini's tragic love story La bohème is given a powerful reinterpretation inspired by the current pandemic by Director Roxana Haines. Using an abridged score by Jonathan Dove, which involves seven soloists and a reduced orchestra, Scottish Opera's staging places a small audience right in the middle of the action, in the car park (under a canopy) of the Company's Edington Street Production Studios in Glasgow, for a run of five early evening performances from Saturday 5 September. Tickets go on sale from Thursday 27 August 2020, 10am.

The popular Pop-up Opera roadshow kicks off on Friday 4 September at The Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock. Other confirmed locations include Platform Theatre in Easterhouse, The Riverside Museum in Glasgow, Eden Court in Inverness, Heart of Hawick in the Borders, Edinburgh Zoo and the Museum of Flight in East Lothian. Further dates and locations will be announced as details are confirmed. Tickets are FREE and will be available to reserve from Thursday 27 August.

Alex Reedijk, General Director, said: ’After over five months of lockdown, I am delighted that Scottish Opera can now begin to bring live singing and playing back to our audiences in Scotland. Many of them have shared with us what an exceptionally difficult time this has been, so we are delighted that we can begin to offer live performances again, even if only in reduced scale and appropriately socially distanced at present. As we know, the shared, live experience of entertainment brings so much pleasure to audience and performers, and, of course, it is great for everyone at Scottish Opera to be making work again.’

La bohème

Set in the modern day and sung in English, this production brings to life the heart-wrenching tale of costume maker Mimì, played by Elizabeth Llewellyn, with Rhian Lois as Musetta, both making their Scottish Opera debuts. They are joined by Samuel Sakker (Kátya Kabanová 2019) as Rodolfo, Roland Wood (Tosca 2019) as Marcello, David Ireland as Colline, The Robertson Trust Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Arthur Bruce (The Narcissistic Fish 2020) as Schaunard, and Francis Church (Breaking the Waves 2019) as Alcindoro. Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford conducts The Orchestra of Scottish Opera in Jonathan Dove’s arrangement of Puccini’s score in performances that last around 1 hour 35 minutes with no interval.

The production is directed by Roxana Haines (Fox-tot! 2019) and designed by Glasgow-based Anna Orton, with specially commissioned graffiti art designs by artpistol Projects, an independently run, public and commercial arts group, based in Glasgow which bring the outdoor location to life.

In a twist to the classic tale, Mimì struggles to make ends meet as a freelance costume designer for opera, ballet and theatre. Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Musetta is a local celebrity, Marcello is a scenic painter dabbling in street art, Rodolfo is a writer, Schaunard a busking musician, and Colline a sort of modern philosopher. The characters are all freelance creatives living out of the trucks in the Scottish Opera car park, having ransacked the Company’s Production Studios, desperate to find a way to survive.

Director Roxana Haines said: ‘Join us for this immersive, site-specific production of La bohème which is bright, bold and full of appreciation for the world around us - a world that has, for the past six months, been held together by health systems, medical practitioners and spontaneous eruptions of art. The value of art, creativity, culture and community has never been more apparent than when they have all been taken away from us. We have chosen to stage this production by turning the restrictions we face into creative challenges, and reminding ourselves, as Rodolfo says, that "it's art to the rescue, a knight in shining armour". We have a wonderfully experienced cast collaborating on this new version of La bohème, which is an absolute gift for a director.’

Stuart Stratford, Scottish Opera Music Director said: ‘In these uncertain and anxious times La bohème has never been more important to perform. The transformation that Puccini makes to the drama leaves us in awe at the fragility, depth and ultimately the soaring resilience of the human spirit against overwhelming adversity.’

Pop-up Opera

There are three brilliant FREE shows on offer. A Little Bit of Don Giovanni and A Little Bit of The Gondoliers are cleverly re-written 25-minute versions of the full operas, while The Song of The Clyde has been created specifically for families.

The shows are performed in a specially adapted trailer to create a portable stage to adhere with social distancing guidelines. While past productions of Pop-up Operas have accommodated both the audience and performers inside the mobile Theatre Royal trailer, this year performances are al fresco with a covered stage and audiences out front in the open air, seated in social/household bubbles.

The shows are brought to life by storyteller Allan Dunn, singers Sarah Power, Stephanie Stanway, Aidan Edwards and Andrew McTaggart, instrumentalists Andrew Drummond Huggan, Sasha Savaloni and Ian Watt, and a series of colourful illustrations by Tim Gravestock, Otto Von Beech and Iain Piercy.

Arranged by Derek Clark, Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, A Little Bit of Don Giovanni offers highlights from Mozart’s classic dark tale of seduction. The Don sets his sights on Donna Anna, but when her father intervenes, it costs the elder man his life - and Don Giovanni must flee. But as the shadows close in and the mistakes of his past begin to catch up with him, the Don’s tangled web of lies and betrayal begins to unravel.

One of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most popular comic operas has been whittled down by Derek Clark to create A Little Bit of The Gondoliers. Originally planned to complement Scottish Opera’s mainstage production of The Gondoliers which was due to tour Scotland and London earlier this year, the whimsical opera tells the story of two happy-go-lucky gondoliers in Venice who discover that one of them is, in fact, heir to the throne of a distant kingdom.

The Song of the Clyde, composed by Karen MacIver with words by Allan Dunn, tells the story of one of Scotland’s most famous rivers. Audiences are invited to journey back in time and place, tracing the history of the Clyde from ancient times to the present day. Songs and stories tell of the generations who lived and worked along its banks, as it winds a path from its source high in the hills of South Lanarkshire down through the Clyde Valley to Glasgow and further onwards to the ‘tail of the bank’ near Greenock - the deepest estuary waters in Britain.

Scottish Opera’s Director of Outreach and Education, Jane Davidson said: ‘Scottish Opera’s Pop-up tour is even more delighted than ever to be out and about across the country, performing a selection of miniature gems from the opera repertoire. Alongside the dark and powerful tale of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, you will be transported to Venice to observe the complicated love lives of two lads who make their living on the waterways of that most romantic of cities in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers. Continuing with the watery theme, a new show for families with younger children, The Song of The Clyde, traces the history that sprang up along the banks of one of Scotland’s most famous rivers from ancient times right up to the present day. As once was said, Glasgow made the Clyde and the Clyde made Glasgow.’

Pop-up Opera is sponsored by Baillie Gifford and supported by Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

You can follow Scottish Opera on Facebook. Twitter and Instagram @ScottishOpera

La bohème Cast and Creative list

Mimì Elizabeth Llewellyn

Rodolfo Sam Sakker

Marcello Roland Wood

Musetta Rhian Lois

Colline David Ireland

Schaunard Arthur Bruce

*Alcindoro Francis Church

Actor/Dancer Jessica Rhodes

*The Robertson Trust Scottish Opera Emerging Artist 2019/20

Conductor Stuart Stratford

Director Roxana Haines

Designer Anna Orton

Lighting Andrew Burnside

Assistant Conductor Derek Clark

Assistant Director Katie Smith

Translation Amanda Holden

La bohème Performance Diary

Scottish Opera Edington Street Production Studios, 40 Edington Street, Glasgow, G4 9RD

Sat 5 Sep, 5pm

Tue 8 Sep, 5pm

Thu 10 Sep, 5pm

Sat 12 Sep, 5pm

Sun 13 Sep, 5pm

For more information and to buy tickets, which cost £20, visit

Pop-Up Opera Cast and Creative Team

Storyteller Allan Dunn

Sopranos Sarah Power & Stephanie Stanway

Baritone Aidan Edwards & Andrew McTaggart

Cello Andrew Drummond Huggan

Guitar Sasha Savaloni & Ian Watt

A Little Bit of Don Giovanni

Mozart arr. Derek Clark

Illustrations Tim Gravestock

A Little Bit of The Gondoliers

Gilbert & Sullivan arr. Derek Clark

Illustrations Otto Von Beach

The Song of The Clyde

Music Karen MacIver

Words Allan Dunn

Illustrations Iain Piercy

Pop Up Opera Performance Information

Please note tickets are free, however you may be required to pay an entry fee to some sites

For booking details and further information, please see

The Beacon Arts Centre, Custom House Quay, Greenock, PA15 1HJ

Fri 4 Sep, 2.30pm & 4.30pm

Sat 5 Sep, 12pm, 2.30pm, 4.30pm

National Museum of Flight, East Fortune Airfield, East Lothian, EH39 5LF

Sun 6 Sep, 12.45pm & 3.15pm

Platform, 1000 Westerhouse Rd, Easterhouse, Glasgow, G34 9JW

Fri 11 Sep

The Riverside Museum, 100 Pointhouse Rd, Govan, Glasgow, G3 8RS

Sat 12 Sep

Sun 13 Sep

Eden Court, Bishops Road, Inverness, IV3 5SA

Sat 19 Sep 12pm, 2.30pm, 4.30pm

Sun 20 Sep 12pm, 2.30pm, 4.30pm

Heart of Hawick, Live Borders, Melrose Road, Galashiels, TD1 2DU

Thu 24 Sep

Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Rd, Corstorphine, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS

Sun 27 Sep, 11am, 1.30pm & 3pm

Further dates and locations to be announced.

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