Mary Woodward Preview

Scottish Opera Season Preview!

Our very own Mary shines the spotlight on Scottish Opera’s upcoming team.


The European premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s dark and daring opera, Breaking the Waves, takes place at this summer’s Edinburgh International Festival. It opens on August 21 at King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, for three performances.

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Based on Lars von Trier’s award-winning film, Breaking the Waves is directed by Tom Morris, the Tony Award-winning Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic whose work includes War Horse, Touching the Void and The Death of Klinghoffer at ENO and the Met.

Scottish Opera Music Director Stuart Stratford conducts soloists of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera.  American soprano Sydney Mancasola, a grand finals winner of the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, is Bess McNeill, a young woman living in a deeply religious community in the Scottish Highlands in the 1970s.


Also in the cast are Edinburgh-born baritone Duncan Rock as Bess’s husband Jan Nyman; Wallis Giunta, winner of the 2018 International Opera Awards’ Young Singer of the Year; Orla Boylan; former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist Elgan Llŷr Thomas (Ariadne auf Naxos 2017); Byron Jackson and Freddie Tong. The libretto is by Royce Vavrek and the set and costume designer is Soutra Gilmour.

Breaking the Waves caused a sensation when it premiered at Opera Philadelphia in 2016, and went on to win the 2017 Best New Opera from the Music Critics Association of North America and was shortlisted for an International Opera Award.

Alex Reedijk, Scottish Opera General Director said: ‘Breaking the Waves is our second co-production with Opera Ventures for the Edinburgh International Festival, following the critical success of Greek in 2017. Missy Mazzoli is one of America’s finest contemporary composers, and we are so excited to be part of the journey for her incredible work’s European premiere, with the very talented Tom Morris directing and our own brilliant Music Director Stuart Stratford  conducting.’

John Berry, Artistic Director and Founder of Opera Ventures said: ‘Opera Ventures’ first project, Greek by Mark-Anthony Turnage, made a huge impact in Scotland and New York City, and we are delighted to follow this with Breaking the Waves by one of the most theatrical operatic voices of her generation, Missy Mazzoli. This new production shows the significant value of international collaboration and philanthropic support in bringing contemporary opera to a wider audience. I am very pleased to be working again with director Tom Morris.’

This production has been made possible with support from Howard and Sarah Solomon Foundation, Denise Coates Foundation, Karl Sydow, Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music and a syndicate of donors.


Scottish Opera has unveiled its 2019/20 Season which includes a European premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival, three further new productions, one revival, six titles in the Opera in Concert series, and the world premiere of a new ‘opera for toddlers’ at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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  • European premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves at Edinburgh International Festival, directed by Tom Morris  
  • Anthony Besch’s much-loved production of Puccini’s Tosca opens main season
  • Scottish Opera premiere of John Adams’ Nixon in China, conducted by Joana Carneiro and directed by John Fulljames
  • Dominic Hill, Artistic Director of Citizens Theatre, directs new production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Stuart Maunder directs a new production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers
  • World premiere of Fox-tot!, a new opera for toddlers by former Scottish Opera Composer in Residence, Lliam Paterson, directed by Roxana Haines
  • Scottish Opera returns to Lammermuir Festival with a double bill
  • Opera in Concert performances continue celebrations of Mascagni and Gilbert & Sullivan
  • Amadeus & The Bard explores the links between Mozart and Robert Burns Opera Highlights visits 34 venues around Scotland in Autumn 2019 and Spring 2020

A truly international line-up of singers appears throughout the Season. Making their debuts with the Company are Trevor Eliot Bowes, Orla Boylan, Wallis Giunta, Eric Greene, Byron Jackson and Sydney Mancasola.

There are welcome return visits from Evez Abdulla, Mark Le Brocq, Richard Burkhard, Emma Carrington, Sioned Gwen Davies, Aidan Edwards, Jennifer France, Morten Grove Frandsen, Ric Furman, Justina Gringyte, Katie Grosset, Aled Hall, Hanna Hipp, Charlotte Hoather, Paul Carey Jones, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Ellie Laugharne, Jessica Leary, Hye-Youn Lee, Nicholas Lester, Jamie MacDougall, Ben McAteer, William Morgan, Lancelot Nomura, Clare Presland, Sarah Pring, Daniel Keating-Roberts, Duncan Rock, Natalya Romaniw, David Shipley, Michel de Souza, Julia Sporsén, David Stout, Richard Suart, Elgan Llŷr Thomas, Freddie Tong, Sinéad Campbell-Wallace, Roland Wood and Dingle Yandell.

Alex Reedijk, General Director, said: ‘This Season, Scottish Opera brings a diverse range of titles, including 12 operas, to audiences in over 50 venues all over Scotland and beyond. From 20th century masterpieces by Benjamin Britten and John Adams to much-loved works by Gilbert & Sullivan and Puccini, and an intriguing Opera in Concert series curated by Music Director Stuart Stratford, there is a wonderful array of operatic fare.

‘Directing our full-scale productions are five great talents: Jonathan Cocker, who is reviving Anthony’s Besch’s iconic Tosca which opens the Season; John Fulljames; Dominic Hill; Tom Morris and Stuart Maunder. Creative partnerships are crucial to what we do, so it’s thrilling to be working alongside festivals, companies and opera houses locally, nationally and internationally. The Company is greatly looking forward to returning to the Lammermuir Festival, and to taking Missy Mazzoli’s sensational Breaking the Waves to the Edinburgh International Festival.

‘The ever-inventive Outreach and Education Department builds on the success of our work for young children with the world premiere of Fox-tot!, by the brilliant, young Scottish composer Lliam Paterson, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Scottish Opera Young Company returns to the stage with Sondheim; we present three Dementia Friendly performances as well as Spinning Songs and Memory Spinners workshops; and we tour Pop-up Opera, The Opera Factory and our Primary Schools Tour.’

Stuart Stratford, Scottish Opera Music Director, added: ‘We are committed to exploring some lesser known repertoire in our Opera in Concert performances, and I am delighted that we are continuing our Mascagni odyssey with a double bill of Zanetto, performed with Wolf- Ferrari’s Susanna’s Secret. Mascagni’s Iris is also not to be missed, and the series comes full circle to finish with Cavalleria rusticana, the piece that catapulted Mascagni to success. It is paired with Leoncavallo’s Zingari. Another rarity can be heard in our semi-staged performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Utopia, Limited, which stands alongside our new touring production of The Gondoliers.

‘I am thrilled our new Season gets underway at the Edinburgh International Festival with the European premiere of Breaking the Waves by the exciting American composer, Missy Mazzoli. Nixon in China is another modern American classic. It still resonates with today’s global politics, and it changed the rulebook of what contemporary opera could be. John Adams’ soundworld continues to influence generations of new composers. Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream completes our trio of work from the 20th and 21st centuries, with a new staging by Citizens Theatre Artistic Director, Dominic Hill.’

Preview by Mary Woodward


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