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Scottish Opera


Scottish Opera is Scotland’s national opera company and the largest performing arts organisation in Scotland. The Company was founded by Alexander Gibson in 1962 and was inaugurated with a production of Madama Butterfly at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow. In 1974 Scottish Opera purchased the Theatre Royal Glasgow, which reopened in 1975 as Scotland’s first national opera house. The Orchestra of Scottish Opera was founded in 1980.

We are committed to bringing the widest possible range of opera, performed to the highest possible standards, to the maximum audience throughout Scotland and the UK. Each year we perform in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness and over 30 other theatres, village halls and community centres across the country.

We present mainstage productions from a wide range of composers and in a range of periods, languages and styles, aiming for a balanced basket of work that offers variety, while getting to the heart of each story, and to the hearts of our audiences. We take our remit as Scotland’s national opera company very seriously, and take oursmaller-scale work, both piano and orchestra-accompanied, the length and breadth of the country, from venues that hold just 80 to those that cater to larger communities outwith Scotland’s main cities.

We encourage new and younger audiences. Since 2007, we have sold over 22,000 tickets to young people as part of our ‘£10 tickets if you’re under 26’ scheme. These tickets, unlike many offers for younger audience members, are bookable in advance and valid for the best seats available – giving the best experience possible.

We actively work to nurture our artform and develop the opera ecology in Scotland. We regularly commission new opera, including our sell out Five:15 – Operas Made in Scotland series and full-scale works from Scottish and UK composers including James MacMillan, Judith Weir, Sally Beamish and Thea Musgrave. We also encourage the next generation of singers, directors, composers and artisans through our Emerging Artist Programme, giving the most talented young artists a year of full time work to get them started in their professional careers.

Our education team was established in 1971, making it the oldest education and outreach unit of any opera house in Europe. Through their ground-breaking work we engage with people of all ages and abilities, including babies, nursery, primary and secondary school children, college students and adult community groups. Much of this work is designed to help make opera mean something to people for the first time, or to present it in ways which are new and inspiring.

Notable points in the Company’s history include commissioning James MacMillan’sInés de Castro for the 1996 Edinburgh International Festival and performing the complete Ring cycle at the 2003 Edinburgh International Festival, which won the 2004 South Bank Show Award for Best Opera Production. More recent commissions includeFive:15 – Operas Made in Scotland, part of a five-year research and development project to find the next generation of opera-makers, composers and librettists.

The Company celebrated its 50th birthday in 2012 and continues to go from strength to strength. During our 2012/13 Season we commissioned several new short operas, winning a Herald Angel Award, a Southbank Sky Arts Award and an Olivier Awards nomination. We have recently won a UK Theatre Award for Best Presentation of Touring Opera, and been shortlisted for two Royal Philharmonic Society Awards for Audiences & Engagement, and Learning and Participation.

Scottish Opera’s income is derived from public subsidy, box office and private and commercial support. It is funded by the Scottish Government.

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The Touring Network (Highlands & Islands)

Supporting live performance across the Highlands & Islands as part of a central, celebrated and indispensable part of the cultural life of Scotland.

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