Gianni Schicchi/L’heure espagnole

RSAMD Opera, Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Fri 19 &Sat 20 Jan; Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 25 & Sat 27 Jan


USA and Canada, England and Wales, Sweden, Iceland, Singapore and Brazil are all countries that are fielding singers in the RSAMD’s comedy double bill of operas from Italy and France. Although a one-off blip means that Scotland is rather unusually missing from this international mix, it is the reputation of its national conservatoire’s opera school that is drawing singers from all over the globe. While international students are coming to Glasgow for the renowned teaching that Scotland has traditionally offered young singers, the performances that the RSAMD presents as part of their training are increasingly gaining quite a reputation in their own right.

This term’s pairing of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Ravel’s L’heure espagnole - the first dealing with death, the other with sex - is set to build on what has already been achieved. ‘They are great fun pieces,’ says head of opera, Tim Dean, who conducts both productions, ‘with the common feature that links them being a mule. As well as being brilliantly written, they give a lot of opportunity to a number of singers, especially in the ensembles, where they really have to work as a team.’ With each opera lasting around one hour, they are not too vocally demanding and, as Dean says, ‘the lyrical French repertoire in particular is perfect for young voices’.

In addition to preparing singers for their future careers, the operas also give RSAMD instrumentalists the chance to find out what it’s really like sitting in the pit. Almost 20 students join the ranks of every section of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera to play with them as part of an evolving apprenticeship scheme. ‘It shows them what life is like in the profession’ says Dean, ‘and the Scottish Opera players really enjoy their mentoring role.’

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