Opera Scotland

Iain Fraser on the website OperaScotland

Posted 28 Feb

Three brothers, Iain, Peter and Stephen Fraser, started OperaScotland for a number of reasons. Opera lovers all, they had felt anxiety over Scottish Opera's 'dark year', and heard far too many comments that its subsidy from the Scottish government would be better spent on other things. Around this time too, new media was appearing.  It seemed that a single source for listings information about opera in Scotland would be attractive.

Recently, Iain was asked about the website.

Q. What is your aim?

Well, as it says on the strapline, it's for listings and performance history. Users can click through to book tickets. People send in details of events - it is an opportunity for free publicity. Others in the opera-loving community seem to agree as more and more are visiting our website.

We think OperaScotland will help increase not just interest in opera but perhaps eventually even attendances at opera-related events. We would like people to send in information about club and society meetings, night classes and alternative events such as live cinema screenings. In short, anything connected with opera. Naturally, we list stage and concert performances and recitals in addition to full stage productions. Also we post profiles of singers and performers. We are always on the lookout for operatic images or programmes, particularly those dating from before 1960.  Please send some in if you have any!

Q. How do you cover costs?

We make some money from advertising and we plan to raise some from the sale of booklets. Our first book is available now (on Kindle only) Carl Rosa Touring Opera in Scotland 1874-1899.  This offers some fascinating insights into the people involved.  But the website is really a labour of love. People just don't know how much activity there has been in Scotland.

Q. What have you found about the history of opera in Scotland?

Well, opera singers have been coming here as long as opera existed, and in fact Scotland has produced many great opera singers over the years.  We have always taken the best from Europe, and given back too - Scottish performers still travel abroad and make a living internationally.

We've identified the date of first performance in Scotland of many operas - it is exciting to find we're pushing dates back. Touring companies brought some of Rossini's operas to Edinburgh in the 1820s and 1830s, for example.  The opera expert Harold Rosenthal could not find a Don Giovanni in Scotland before 1830 or a Valkyrie before 1910 but we've found performances earlier than these. We intend to keep working away - let's see what we can discover.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

Well, we plan to continue on the road we set, but we particularly want to carry out more interviews with performers new and old. We are reconstructing the programme and casts for Ledlanet Nights. This was an amazing Arts Festival run in Kinross-shire by the publisher John Calder during the 1960s and 1970s. It introduced a number of operas to Scotland.  Please let us hear of your memories.

Also we have also been busy preparing a list of operas given their Scottish premiere at Glasgow's Theatre Royal - so far we have identified around sixty, and about two hundred elsewhere in Scotland.

We welcome all support and enjoy hearing all the stories. Please help grow the community. Take part and 'like' us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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