Scottish Opera Highlights online

With a new opera film – of Sam Bordoli and Jenny Fagan’s The Narcissistic Fish – already in the can before lockdown, Scottish Opera has been ahead of the game in making work during the pandemic since before COVID-19 struck.

The company followed that with one of the highlights of the Edinburgh International Festival’s online programme in an updated location-shot film of Menotti’s The Telephone, and then brought the Lammermuir Festival to a memorable conclusion with Janacek’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared, filmed in Glasgow’s Theatre Royal.

All of these are still available to view on the Scottish Opera website, and they will be joined on October 25 – World Opera Day – by the autumn production of Opera Highlights.

The four-singers-and-a-piano show, stitching together arias well-known and less familiar with an invented narrative, usually tours across Scotland, visiting small theatres and community halls from the Borders to the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland. With that commitment currently impossible, the show has been filmed at The Beacon in Greenock and will premiere online.

The playlist has been selected, as usual, by Head of Music Derek Clark, and the show is directed by Rosie Purdie. It has some fun and games with the strictures of social distancing and other current rules in a story of four singers meeting up to perform together for the first time in months. Verdi, Bizet, Mozart, Lehar and Arthur Sullivan are among the composers providing the soundtrack.

Susannah Wapshott is at the piano, and the cast is the latest line-up of Scottish Opera Emerging Artists: soprano Catriona Hewitson, mezzo Margo Arsane, tenor Shengzhi Ren and baritone Arthur Bruce.

Director Rosie Purdie says: “I wanted this production of Opera Highlights to feel bright and merry, provide a few much-needed laughs, and exhibit some wonderful music.”

Picture, of Catriona Hewitson by Colin Hattersley