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The world can claim many great opera houses: the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, La Scala in Milan, Sydney Opera House, The Lincoln Centre in New York, The Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne in England.
Now add to this prestigious list the car park by Oban High School, where this Friday and Saturday Scottish Opera will apply the handbrake to its trailer-turned-stage, and sing its heart out for socially distant audiences.
Each afternoon for Oban’s enjoyment, in whatever weather luck befalls, Scottish Opera will condense three fun-filled Gilbert & Sullivan classics into 30-minute performances of A Little Bit of… The Gondoliers, The Mikado, and Iolanthe.
‘Featuring some of Gilbert & Sullivan’s wittiest lyrics and best-known tunes, the shows are an ideal opportunity for anyone new to opera to try a taster,’ organisers said. ‘Cleverly re-scored by Scottish Opera’s head of music, Derek Clark, with story text by Allan Dunn, the shows are popping up at a variety of iconic and surprising locations across Scotland.’
A Little Bit of The Gondoliers tells of ‘two gorgeous gondoliers, dozens of adoring girls and the lost heir to the kingdom of Barataria: it can mean just one thing – trouble,’ Scottish Opera explains. In A Little Bit of The Mikado, ‘the Mikado has decreed that flirting should be punishable by death. But when his son Nanki-Poo falls for the beautiful Yum-Yum, it looks like someone might be heading for the executioner’s block!’
Scottish Opera’s lorry then heads north to show A Little Bit of HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance at the Nevis Centre in Fort William on July 21, followed by three venues on the Isle of Lewis: Tong Community Centre on July 27, Sporsnis in Lionel, Ness, on July 28, and Grinneabhat Centre in Bragar, on July 29.
While past productions of Pop-up Operas have accommodated both the audience and performers inside the mobile Theatre Royal trailer, this year performances are al fresco with a covered stage and audiences out front in the open air, seated in household bubbles in line with the current Scottish Government guidelines.
The shows are brought to life by storyteller Allan Dunn, along with singers Stephanie Stanway, Charlotte Hoather, Andrew McTaggart, Mark Nathan, Jessica Leary, instrumentalists Andrew Drummond Huggan, Laura Sergeant, Sasha Savaloni and Ian Watt, with a series of colourful illustrations helping guide the audiences through the somewhat convoluted, but always comical, adventurous tales of Gilbert & Sullivan.
Scottish Opera’s General Director, Alex Reedijk, said: ‘The return to live performance is something we have long awaited. The roadshow is at the heart of what we do as a company, travelling the highways and byways of Scotland to local communities and making opera accessible to all. So, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to return to this in a safe manner at locations across Scotland.
‘Using two trailers allows us to offer over 200 performances with double the fun for double the audiences. We look forward to seeing everyone at our outdoor performances very soon, and hopefully inside theatres in the near future.’