Posted 4 May
Opera Scotland recently met with the Chair (Douglas Nicholson) and the Artistic Director (Christina Dunwoodie) of Edinburgh Grand Opera to hear about their forthcoming production of La traviata in the King's Theatre. Founded in 1955, Edinburgh Grand has outlasted many other Scottish opera societies, perhaps because they have been able to adapt better to a more challenging economic climate.
Douglas Nicholson stressed that the time when a company could bring together a large chorus and orchestra - sometimes amounting to well over a hundred - had long gone. Also a correspondingly large number of relatives and friends used to come, attracted by word of mouth. It was a different era now. But Edinburgh Grand Opera had an important role, being able to offer young, talented singers (not just from Scotland) the chance to sing roles and learn stagecraft in a supportive professional environment.
Turning to their production of La traviata which opens at Edinburgh's King's Theatre on Wednesday 8 May, Christina Dunwoodie explained one of the tenors had to pull out and at short notice they were able to attract a Mexican tenor, Oscar de la Torre (pictured), who is flying in from his home in Germany to take the part of Alfredo. Other singers include a magnificent Welsh baritone, Rhys Jenkins, and a German, Ralph Strehle, who has married a Scottish girl and made his home in Glasgow. Other singers include Rachael Brimley, fresh from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and figures well known to Edinburgh audiences such as Susan McNaught and Ivor Klayman. Richard Lewis is returning as guest conductor
Opera Scotland What about the other parts?
Christina Dunwoodie There are so many talented singers in the cast, including Benjamin Ellis, who was chosen by EGO for their development programme. Benjamin is going off to London in the autumn for postgraduate study. There are just so few opportunities in Scotland.
Opera Scotland What can you tell us about the production?
Christina Dunwoodie It's fairly traditional, set in the period in which Verdi set it. There are no extravagant sets, in part because of funding but also because we wanted to bring out the drama. I've sung the lead role twice, and I wanted to make sure that singers worked with the music and the story line, and not against it as sometimes happens. Audiences will respond to the emotion on stage.
Opera Scotland How do you see the future of the company?
Douglas Nicholson There must be a place for an opera company in Scotland - in Edinburgh - offering opportunities for young professionals to work and to learn the roles. Of course we cannot compete with Scottish Opera but we can surely aim for the best professional standard we can. People who come along will have a great experience!
Opera Scotland Thank you both and best wishes for the company's success! Click through to book your tckets here.
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