Opera Scotland

Cabinet of Dr Caligari

Posted 29 Mar 2016

A specially composed, darkly gothic tale of murder, mystery and mayhem set in Scotland is coming to the stage for the very first time. The young singers and orchestral musicians of Scottish Opera's Connect Company will perform a new take on the 1920s silent horror film Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari, with the action transferred to Glasgow in 1898.

Written by composer Karen MacIver and librettist Allan Dunn, the tale unfolds in a fairground on Glasgow Green and in an asylum. Dr Caligari is a carnival entertainer with a charismatic personality who lures trusting audiences with a mysterious cabinet. Francis, his girlfriend Jane and her friend Ellen, watch the doctor as he reveals the secret of the cabinet, unravelling terrible consequences.

More than 70 Connect participants, aged 14 to 21, who fit in rehearsals and performances to their study and work schedules, are joined on stage by professional performers including former Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Andrew McTaggart and Sarah Power. They are directed by Julie Brown, who previously worked with the Connect Company on The Walk from the Garden and Dr. Ferret's Bad Medicine Roadshow double bill (2015) and two Kurt Weill works in 2013.

Designer Lisa Sangster has worked with Brown to create a truly sinister atmosphere. MacIver has added background recordings to the score, as well as pre-recorded music and sound effects which play at the same time as the orchestra to add to the brooding oppressiveness of the production.

The show, which is ideal for all the family, is designed to ensure the audience feels very much a part of the action, as they will be seated along two sides of the performance space, with the orchestra to one side.

Director Julie Brown said: 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari lends itself beautifully to being rehomed in Glasgow. The complex narrative allows the young Connect Company some exciting opportunities to play with different characters. Double, indeed triple, casting stretches the talented young singers who have to learn their music and roles over an extensive rehearsal period whilst at the same time coping with school work, writing dissertations for university and holding down part time jobs. This dramatic new commission has caught their imaginations and fired their thirst for performance. They continue to inspire me as they learn extremely complicated and vocally challenging music.'

Scottish Opera's Education and Outreach Department was the first of its kind of any opera company in Europe. It operates an extensive programme which involves over 10,000 primary school children every year, as well as many other activities including adult learning and free Unwrapped taster sessions. 

Check out the dates, and book your tickets here.

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