Opera Scotland

Pelleas et Melisande

A Golden Age for opera?

Posted 26 Mar 2017

Despite pressure on funding, the prospects for opera in Scotland seem brighter than for many years. Are we living through a golden age or a false dawn?

Perhaps most importantly, Scottish Opera have in Stuart Stratford a respected young British conductor as Director of Music, furthermore one on a long-term contract. The resourceful Alex Reedijk continues to be challenged by his budgets but clearly Stratford has brought refreshing ideas as to repertoire - witness the recent splendid Pelléas et Mélisande (pictured) - and the impressive refocusing of the Sunday concert series.

As for the Edinburgh International Festival under Fergus Linehan, the newly announced programme commemorates the 70th anniversary year by bringing opera again to the fore with a well-chosen mix of staged and concert performances. Only time will tell whether this is simply an anniversary flourish or the first step in a sustained improvement in operatic engagement.

At the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, opera performances have gone from strength to strength under the experienced guidance of Tim Dean and his team. Although Tim is stepping down to pursue other interests, his replacement Philip White seems poised to build on the standards that have helped the RCS achieve their ranking as third of its kind in the world.

In the last few years, the pattern of collaboration between these three leading bodies has been strengthened, ensuring the resources available for opera are well used.

A counterargument might be that the number of mainstage performances, particularly outside the central belt, seems indeed meagre compared with the 20th century. Partly to compensate for this we note the increasingly ready access to opera streaming on line or through live relays to cinemas. But this is not the same as opera in the flesh, argue the purists. There is no doubt much in this.

However we have not even mentioned the many companies, both old and new, which are finding ways to promote the art form in Scotland. Of these, more soon!

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