Emma Kerr is a rising star of opera, having been chosen as one of Scottish Opera's Emerging Artists. Iain Fraser of OperaScotland spoke to her recently about her career and her time on tour with Opera Highlights.
Emma, thank you very much for making time to talk to OperaScotland. What was your first experience of opera?
The first opera I ever saw was when I went with my Dad to Scottish Opera's Don Giovanni in Edinburgh. I think I was sixteen or seventeen at the time.
Your family was...
Posted 27 Mar
Stuart Stratford, Music Director of Scottish Opera, recently spoke about his plans to Iain Fraser of OperaScotland.
Stuart, asked to talk about the origins of his interest in music, explained that he first started out learning the clarinet before continuing to develop his musical talents.
And you then went off to study?
Yes, for three years at university. It was at university that I really got the bug of conducting. There was a fortunate circumstance when there was no conductor for our...
Posted 20 Dec
Max Fane and Raucous Rossini were at the National Trust for Scotland's magnificent house at Hill of Tarvit with a touring production of Il Signor Bruschino, when Iain Fraser of OperaScotland was able to learn about their progress.
Max, what is your first memory of opera?
My first experience of opera was a rather big treat, going to the opera house with my mum. We just decided to go, I'd developed an interest in singing and we had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for. It was Verdi's...
Posted 22 Jul
Rachael Liddell is one of many young Scots passionate about singing and about opera. She spoke recently to OperaScotland about her plans, including her first recital at the Fringe.
Rachael Liddell is a recent graduate from Edinburgh Napier University. She graduated in July 2015, majoring in vocal performance with a classical music degree. She's now working as a vocal teacher, something she started in September 2015. At the moment she's not only teaching but also taking as many performing...
Posted 30 Jun
The new chamber opera, The Iris Murder, composed by Alasdair Nicolson to words by John Gallas, is to be premiered by a talented team led and conducted by the Scottish conductor Will Conway. OperaScotland's Iain Fraser recently interviewed Will, hearing how his career began, and of the genesis of The Iris Murder.
Did you always want to be a musician?
I took a while to get started. I hadn't really heard any classical music at all until I was 11, and that's when I started playing the cello....
Posted 3 Jun
Ivor Klayman is a talented baritone (and lawyer), who has been around the musical world in Edinburgh for many years, and he has some fascinating memories and reflections. Opera Scotland talked with him about his varied singing career.
I keep on saying to my friend George "I owe all my career (such as it is) to you". If he hadn't suggested we join the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group in first year in 1963, I don't know if I would ever have done much more than sing in the bath.
Posted 29 Apr
Opera Holland Park (OHP), sometimes referred to as "London's third opera company", presents a summer festival in West London. Established under a canopy with performances sometimes supplemented by peacock cries and other extraneous noise, it has a very different 'feel' from most other operatic offerings.
Peter Fraser of OperaScotland interviewed Michael Volpe, general manager of Opera Holland Park, at the last Arts Marketing Symposium at Hertfordshire Business School.
Michael Volpe, thank...
Posted 8 Feb
Sue Baxendale is Section Principal Horn with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, and in addition both Producer and Education and Outreach Officer for Music Co-OPERAtive Scotland (McOpera) for which she has both devised and led numerous projects. Throughout her creative life, she has been a strong advocate for the unique power of opera to express and articulate our modern lives.
Her recent work with McOpera has included the Scottish premiere of Fleishmann/Shostakovich's opera Rothschild's Violin...
Posted 8 Sep
Stephen Fraser of OperaScotland recently interviewed Ian Ryan at Glasgow's 2015 West End Festival. Ian conducted the first performance in Scotland of Erik Chisholm's opera Simoon.
What was your first memory of opera?
My father used to listen to a lot of records and he had a big opera collection – if I'm honest I never took much of an interest, as I was more interested in piano music and other lots of other forms of music. It was only as a teenager, seeing some opera and then later working...
Posted 23 Aug
Recently Siobhan spoke with Stephen Fraser about her work before appearing as Diana in Ayrshire Opera's Actaeon.
Siobhan McAuley has been immersed in musical performance from an early age. At the age of five she joined the Glasgow Youth Choir singing as a soloist and touring throughout Europe. Since graduating from the RSAMD (now Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) Siobhan has continued to perform solo in operas, recitals and nationwide competitions. Highlights she recalls include playing...
Posted 15 Aug
David Douglas is co-founder of Ayrshire Opera, one of Scotland's innovative operatic ventures. David recently spoke to Stephen Fraser of OperaScotland about his career and Ayrshire Opera's work.
Where do you come from originally, David?
I'm an Ayrshire lad from Irvine. I did all the music I could at school, Burns competitions and other stuff - choirs, everything. Then I went to the RSAMD as it was then and [afterwards] continued to the Royal College of Music in Manchester. From there I...
Posted 16 Jul
Brian Bannatyne-Scott recently visited St Andrews to sing Judas in Elgar's The Apostles. Just before the concert he met Iain of OperaScotland to talk over his career.
What was your first experience of opera?
My first memory - all my first memories - were of Scottish Opera, of course. Being a teenager or a youngster in the 60s and 70s I heard quite a lot of operas because my music teacher at school - Watson's in Edinburgh - was Richard Telfer, who was one of the original directors of...
Posted 20 Jun
In the second clip from our interview, Iain Fraser of OperaScotland, the website for listings and performance history, asks Fergus about Festival management.
What does he see as being the biggest challenge here?
Posted 15 Apr
OperaScotland recently interviewed Fergus Linehan, incoming Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, to learn about his career and plans for the future of the Festival.
In the first clip, he speaks about his introduction to opera and reflects on running the Sydney Festival.
Posted 15 Apr
The Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is one of the remarkable fixtures of the Scottish Arts scene, with an international reputation.
In the coming months, students and staff will be appearing not only in opera scenes, but in productions of Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tirésias and Ralph Vaughn Williams's Sir John in Love - the last two rarities indeed.
What a marvellous prospect! All of these are open to the public, and...
Posted 30 Dec
Stephanie talked about learning and development as a singer
OperaScotland When you're working on a role, have you ever said well, that doesn't suit my voice?
I've had experiences of doing a role more than once, and from that you learn it takes time to get a role to settle, to get to know all about it the first time you do it is too much - you are always learning. I think it's quite important to stretch yourself and sometimes for me I can be quite cautious about taking risks. Quite often...
Posted 29 Dec
Donald Maxwell recently talked to us about his introduction to opera, and reminisced about the start of his career. Our clip contains his memories of that great Scottish tenor, Joseph Hislop.
OperaScotland: What was your first experience of opera?
My first experience of Grand Opera was at Perth Theatre. I was a student and I remember going back home and my mother said "do you fancy going to the opera tonight?" It hadn't really crossed my mind, I'd been interested in Gilbert and Sullivan and...
Posted 27 Dec
OperaScotland recently interviewed Stephanie Corley. At the time of writing, Stephanie is about to appear in the title role of Sir James MacMillan's opera, Inés de Castro. She is already well known to Scottish audiences, having appeared as Hanna Glawari, Musetta and most prominently as Mabel in Pirates of Penzance.
First clip features this promising young soprano talking about the early stages of her career. As the background sounds suggest, we managed to interview her in a -fairly quiet...
Posted 24 Dec
OperaScotland has begun to identify and list the operatic performances at Haddo House, Aberdeenshire. These formed part of musical seasons started in 1947 by the late June Gordon, Lady Aberdeen and run by her for many years. We interviewed Alice Dennis, music director.
OperaScotland How did you first become involved at Haddo?
My husband Jerry came up to work for an oil company in Aberdeen. We agreed to buy our house in the dark one night in 1990, so it was a surprise when in daylight we...
Posted 23 Dec
OperaScotland recently had the chance to interview Tim Dean, Head of Opera at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. We asked him then about the unusual choice of Puccini's La rondine for the RCS production this month.
If the growing number of performances across the world is any indication, Puccini's opera is now winning belated recognition. This RCS production is the first time the work has ever been given in Scotland's central belt - in fact, there has been only one previous chance to see...
Posted 4 May
Julian Wagstaff is one of the few Scottish contemporary composers to have mounted three stage works - a musical, John Paul Jones, and two chamber operas, the Turing Test and Breathe Freely. Julian was for some time a translator before developing his musical career, studying music in general and composition in particular.
Having just heard the news that there is to be a recording made of his most recent chamber opera, Breathe Freely, OperaScotland recently invited Julian to talk about his...
Posted 27 Apr
Iain, Peter and Stephen Fraser of OperaScotland first met John Calder in the 1960s, when their father was chairman of Ledlanet Nights, the arts festival John started. John had inherited Ledlanet, a mansion in Kinross-shire, from his great-uncle. Over the years Iain, Peter and Stephen saw many performances and events there, not just opera. They were therefore well placed to ask John about this remarkable festival of the arts, and its contribution to Scotland.
John, people think of you in...
Posted 29 Mar
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...
Posted 28 Feb
Tim Dean has been Head of Opera at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland since 1994, in charge of new postgraduate courses in opera training for singers and repetiteurs. Since moving to Scotland, he has conducted over thirty new opera productions. Recently he spared some time for a wide ranging discussion with OperaScotland's Iain Fraser.
How would you summarise progress at the Conservatoire during your time here?
Well, we've become increasingly an international operation, drawing students...
Posted 5 Jan
Tony Burton, chairman of Friends of Scottish Opera and board member of Scottish Opera, recently gave some time to speak to Iain Fraser of OperaScotland about recent changes.
How long have you been Chair of the Friends of Scottish Opera?
About eighteen months now.
Looking back, what were your first impressions?
When I became chairman I found there were a lot of very enthusiastic people, but overall the number of members had been declining for ten years. I wanted to try and do something about...
Posted 21 Dec
Sally Beamish is a remarkably talented and versatile composer, her output including symphonies, concertos for violin, viola, cello, oboe, saxophone, trumpet percussion, flute and accordion. She has composed film scores, theatre music and music for amateurs. Fans of Scottish Opera will remember her for her opera. In 1996, she composed Monster! to a libretto by Janice Galloway. This was a first opera for them both, based on the life of Mary Shelley, and first performed by our national company...
Posted 11 Oct
Opera Scotland met recently with tenor John Robertson. John is well remembered by many lovers of opera in Scotland both for his solo performances and later as a regular member of the chorus. He was also a frequent presence on the concert platform. As a young singer, he sang for both the Glasgow and Edinburgh Grand Opera Societies, and was one of those called up to the extra chorus when Sadler's Wells toured Scotland in the late fifties. He particularly recalls being part of the final...
Posted 6 Oct
Alex Reedijk, General Director of Scottish Opera, spoke to Opera Scotland, the website for listings and performance history, about the forthcoming season and future developments. "You will enjoy both Rodelinda and Don Giovanni, strong stories strongly told," said Alex.
Full of enthusiasm, Alex talked of the significance of collaborative productions. "We see this as an important part of our strategy, in a world where core funding is not guaranteed to continue at its present level. Maybe one...
Posted 25 Sep
Alex Reedijk, General Director of Scottish Opera, recently spoke to us of the company's progress over the past few years. Given that we were aware that attendances at some other UK opera companis had fallen last year, we listened with interest for the latest news. Alex was delighted to tell us that despite the difficult economic conditions, attendances were actually up significantly. In fact, during the fiftieth anniversary season, paid attendances were 17% above those for the previous...
Posted 7 Sep
Opera buffs - young ones in particular - would not necessarily think of Sir James Galway "The Man with the Golden Flute" as being much involved with opera. But his early career was as an orchestral musician and in the early 1960s he spent four years in the pit with Sadler's Wells Opera.
In the course of this he often played in Scotland. In those days Sadler's Wells (more recently known as English National Opera) toured opera across Britain paying visits to venues in Aberdeen, Dundee,...
Posted 22 Jun
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...
Posted 4 May
Helen Sherman, the talented Australian mezzo soprano, is about to appear with English Touring Opera in the lead role of Aurelio, in Donizetti's Siege of Calais at the Perth Festival of the Arts. Helen, who has already won rave reviews for her performance, spoke to Opera Scotland about the tour.
Opera Scotland How are you enjoying the tour?
Helen Sherman It's been wonderful. The audiences have been warm and appreciative so it's been great!
Opera Scotland Is this your first lengthy...
Posted 26 Apr
Douglas started by outlining the mission statement of Opera Bohemia - "To produce more operatic performances across Scotland; to create opportunitites for professional artists in all areas of opera; and finally to introduce opera to first time attenders and a younger generation in an accessible way."
Opera Scotland: When did you start up?
Alistair: We're now in our third year. We started in 2010. We had a period of time when we were free to put on a production and decided to try La bohème,...
Posted 4 Apr
Iain Paterson, a bass baritone and graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RSAMD at the time he studied there) hails from Drumchapel, Glasgow. Iain has sung among others for Opera North, English National Opera (ENO) and the New York Metropolitan Opera. He is booked to appear at Bayreuth later this year. Iain recently spared some time from rehearsals at ENO's Lilian Baylis studios in North London to speak to Opera Scotland about his career and to share his insights on making a...
Posted 2 Jan