Opera Scotland

Beggar's Opera 2018Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Paris

Read more about the opera Beggar's Opera

The operatic offering at the 2018 Edinburgh International Festival consists of three fully staged productions imported from leading French companies. There are also two concert performances.

In recent years we have heard several of Rossini's less frequently performed operas. Now we can see, together for the first time here, his two most popular comic masterpieces. The Barber of Seville is presented by Le Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, on their first visit from Paris and Cenerentola by the familiar and welcome Opéra de Lyon.

In addition, John Gay's Beggar's Opera is to be performed by the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, from Paris, who have a substantial residency at the Festival. William Christie leads the musical side of this multinational coproduction.

The third instalment of Wagner's Ring, Siegfried is being performed in the Usher Hall. Sir Mark Elder conducts the Hallé; the all-star cast includes Simon O'Neill (Siegfried), Christine Goerke (Brünnhilde) and Iain Paterson (Wanderer).

There is also a concert performance of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, to be given by the RSNO under Sir Andrew Davis. Elizabeth DeShong (Hansel) and Laura Wilde (Gretel) lead the cast.

Two important oratorios will also be given in the Usher Hall. The Dunedin Consort perform Handel's mighty Samson and the Festival's opening concert is Haydn's Creation.


Swarming with highwaymen, thieves, jailors, pimps and prostitutes, John Gay's savagely satirical ballad opera enters a world of greed, crime, poverty and inequality. Politicians and officials are just as corrupt as the lowlifes below them.

The Beggar's Opera was last performed at the Festival when Scottish Opera did it in 1981. A youthful Sir Thomas Allen played Macheath and the cast were almost entirely operatically trained singers. It moved away from the original 'ballad opera' style of the work. The conductor Guy Woolfenden, for years provider of music to the Royal Shakespeare Company, rescored the work on a much larger scale than usual, resulting in an uneasy mix of opera and musical.

This new multinational coproduction promises something rather different. The musical side is under the guidance of baroque specialist William Christie, his role described as 'concept and musical direction'. He uses a group of players from Les Arts Florissants, indicating it will be on a more intimate scale. The performing version is in the hands of renowned director Robert Carsen and dramaturg Ian Burton. It certainly sounds as though the combination will be interesting.

The performers are listed in the Festival programme without allocating roles. They are:

Kate Batter, Olivia Brereton, Robert Burt, Emily Dunn, Wayne Fitzsimmons, Beverley Klein, Natasha Leaver, Emma Kate Nelson, Dominic Owen, Jocelyn Prah, Benjamin Purkiss, Kraig Thornber and Gavin Wilkinson.

Performance DatesBeggar's Opera 2018

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

16 Aug, 19.30 17 Aug, 19.30 18 Aug, 14.30 18 Aug, 19.30 19 Aug, 14.30

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