Opera Scotland

Community opera in Paisley

Posted 31 Jan 2019

With their strapline, 'Passion not posh', we welcome a new community opera company to Scotland.

Professional soloists and orchestra join Paisley Opera’s full community chorus in their first ever full opera: a new production of Puccini’s romantic masterpiece, La Bohème.

Paisley not Paris

This production brings Puccini’s world-renowned opera to the heart of the community, setting it in "Scotland's largest town" and including the town’s history, culture, landmarks and language. Paisley Opera’s specially commissioned translation by Lindsay Bramley, is laced with local dialect and references.

Paisley Opera Chorus is now over 40 voices strong. Participants include those who have only ever sung in the shower as well as seasoned music lovers, and of all ages from sixteen to the over sixties. Professional singers will be joined by pupils from Bushes Primary School and some of the the chorus will sing smaller roles.

Inclusive and accessible

Simon Hannigan, founder of the company, said:“We wanted to build on the momentum of our hugely successful 'Witches of Paisley' project by producing Paisley Opera's first fully staged full-length opera. We talked to many friends and our volunteers about what we should do and kept coming back to La Bohème. It's one of the most popular operas ever written because not only does it have some of the greatest music ever written, but it has very real characters and a plot that is beautiful, heart-breaking and believable. 

Paisley Opera is about being inclusive and making opera accessible to all kinds of people, so it seemed only natural to commission a new translation where the characters sing in everyday modern English. The translation has been tailored to suit each individual soloist so that they are singing with their own voice. The chorus speaks in the language you are likely to hear on the streets of Paisley. The story is a powerful and relevant tale of people living in Paisley in 2019.

Fiona Williams said, “Puccini's tale is of very ordinary people from all walks of life, just like Paisley Opera. The production features students, flatmates, Christmas shoppers, football fans: people that we can all relate to which helps deliver this emotionally charged story.

Audience members will recognise local landmarks and even be able to cheer on a very special St Mirren win! We want the production to be very interactive, with the audience following the action from one space to another. We're recreating the city centre - complete with a lively Christmas market - in the foyer of UWS. Audiences will even be able to do a spot of shopping at the interval.

Librettist Lindsay Bramley said:“ I was very keen that the characters should all speak in a relatively natural voice for them, so once the casting was complete I asked for little clips of all the singers just speaking in their natural voice so that I could get a feel for their speech patterns.

One of the things that I really wanted to play with was how much fun the main characters find in their quite tough lives, right up until the point that tragedy strikes...   ” 

For cast details, check out our listing here.

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