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Scottish Opera presents an online production of highlights

By David Porter

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Scottish Opera presents a digital version of its hugely popular Opera Highlights, which will be released on October 25, World Opera Day, at 6pm.

While the Autumn tour usually sees the company travelling the highways and byways to many different venues in the north-east and Highlands, this year’s online Opera Highlights is a celebration of opera, music and performance in the time of social distancing.

Catriona Hewitson and Margo Arsane
Catriona Hewitson and Margo Arsane

This digital production, filmed in the theatre of The Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, will be available to audiences across Scotland and beyond via Scottish Opera’s website.

Director Rosie Purdie’s colourful production of Opera Highlights looks at the current challenges facing performers in the time of Covid-19 and the strange new practises required in life and on stage.

The production imagines a time when performance can once again happen inside theatres, with four singers delighted to be performing live for the first time since lockdown, even if it means embracing the social distancing required at this time.

A determined organiser struggling to make sure everyone follows the rules, a disorganised singer and social distancing getting in the way of flourishing romances, make for a fun and relevant production of this year’s Opera Highlights.

Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark has curated a playlist of operatic classics and must-hear rarities, with highlights including Verdi’s Brindisi, Bizet’s Habanera and more from the likes of Gilbert and Sullivan, Mozart and Lehár.

Pianist Susannah Wapshott is joined by Scottish Opera Emerging Artists soprano, Catriona Hewitson, mezzo-soprano Margo Arsane, tenor Shengzhi Ren and baritone Arthur Bruce.

As well as the production being available online audiences will be able to delve further into Opera Highlights with the digital programme, which will also be available on the Scottish Opera website.

The Company hopes to tour Opera Highlights to venues across Scotland as soon as they are able to re-open to audiences, in line with Scottish Government guidelines.

Opera Highlights Director Rosie Purdie said: ‘At this time I wanted this production of Opera Highlights to feel bright and merry, provide a few much-needed laughs, and exhibit some wonderful music.

"Four different singers come together to sing on the stage for the first time in many months.

"The cast and everyone backstage have worked extremely hard against the odds, embracing the restrictions and the distancing to create a colourful show designed to make you smile.’

Scottish Opera’s General Director, Alex Reedijk, said: ‘While this year’s production is taking a different form to our usual tour, I am delighted that we are able to continue our much acclaimed productions of Opera Highlights in these times, through this film.

"We look forward to a time when we take this tour to venues right across Scotland, hopefully soon, and that in the meantime this film will be a welcome diversion.’

This productioncan be found online at www.scottishopera.org.uk

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