Opera Scotland

A Night at the Opera 2019Co-production

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Impressive young singers return to St Andrews  

University of St Andrews alumni and award-winning performers Laurie Slavin, tenor, and Caroline Taylor, soprano, (pictured below) returned to town for an early evening concert in the pleasingly atmospheric St Salvator’s Chapel, accompanied by renowned Scottish pianist Walter Blair.

Fun and fundraising

A bank holiday Saturday that had been pleasantly sunny meant that the unseemly chill outside was not continued in the chapel, and the audience in the well-filled stalls thoroughly enjoyed the occasion, with two familiar singers going through their paces and showing how they have developed in their years away. This was essentially a fund-raising venture, with the pair literally 'singing for their supper', earning  supplementary cash to boost their funds for further study. Also a portion of the proceeds is to be donated to the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Opera and classical singers face a long and expensive training, and uncertain income, before they can fully develop their voices. While a selection of grants and scholarships is likely to available for the most talented and studious of them, so it was good to see the intelligence with which these two had  provided an excellent entertainment for a significant number of supporters. The audience was delighted to provide a significant number of small contributions, all adding up to a material sum. The singers compiled an entertaining mix of music that showed off just how versatile they now are. The items chosen consisted of extended scenes, so while there were solos the emphasis was on fully played out drama, with dialogue, recitative and acting to link the arias and duets.

Both singers showed a real development in technique and confidence in diction - clarity honed, no doubt, by years of experience in Gilbert and Sullivan, but they were equally proficient in the Italian items, plus a bonus in effective Hispanic and American accents for the Bernstein. Perhaps the favourite extract was the most unfamiliar one - the superb 'Cherry Duet' from Mascagni's charming romantic comedy L'amico Fritz.

The programme was:

Sullivan The Mikado: 'Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted'

Donizetti L'elisir d'amore: 'Caro elisir, sei mio!'

Puccini La bohème: 'Che gelida manina.....Si, mi chiamano Mimì....O soave fanciulla'

Sullivan The Pirates of Penzance: 'All is prepared....Stay, Frederic, stay!'

Mascagni L'amico Fritz: 'Bel cavalier.....Suzel, buon di'

Bernstein West Side Story: Balcony Scene

Verdi La traviata: Brindisi.

Backgrounds

Since graduating in 2014 and 2015, Laurie and Caroline have completed Masters of Music and Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Northern College of Music respectively. During their time at St Andrews, the pair performed over fifteen roles in productions with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Byre Opera (formerly St Andrews Opera) and the Just So Society; and both received the prestigious Cedric Thorpe Davie Memorial Scholarship and Prize in their final year.

“We are thrilled to return to our alma mater for this concert, which will not only allow us to raise funds for career development and to help children in need, but will be an occasion to celebrate where our singing careers began! We feel so lucky to have studied at one of the top institutions in the UK and to have also received a wealth of musical opportunity. For us, it really was the ‘Singing University’!”

Production Cast

Pianist

Walter Blair

Performance DatesA Night at the Opera 2019

Map List

St Salvator's Chapel | St Andrews

4 May, 18.00

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