Lammermuir Festival and McOpera create New Opera for East Lothian

Lammermuir Festival and McOpera have come together once again to create a new opera for the East Lothian community with Catriona and the Dragon.

Building on the successes of their previous community operas, Britten’s Noye’s Fludde in 2016 and An Cadal Trom by Matthew Rooke in 2018, Lammermuir Festival and McOpera will work with school-aged and amateur singers and instrumentalists in East Lothian schools and community groups. Bringing them together with a professional cast of opera soloists and musicians and conductor Sian Edwards, Catriona and the Dragon will deliver professional mentoring, community pride and new skills through this cross-disciplinary and inter-generational operatic project.

The project presents some complex political and environmental issues within a fairytale world appropriate for the very young to the most senior members of the community and is created by composer Lliam Paterson and librettist and director Laura Attridge.

Catriona is the reluctant ruler of the Kingdom of Beagland, her people threatened by destruction by a fearsome dragon beyond the Bridge to Nowhere. After fleeing her responsibilities, she ultimately finds the courage to cross over to the beast’s lair, sword in hand. When she returns, miraculously alive, she summons the citizens of the land to her court to tell them what she has discovered about the real blight in Beagland.

Conductor Sian Edwards conducts the ensemble cast featuring former Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Catriona Hewiston (soprano) and Arthur Bruce (baritone) with internationally acclaimed British American dramatic mezzo and local East Lothian resident Andrea Baker her first Scottish operatic role.

They are joined by young local singer Nora Trew-Rae, Kodaly-trained youth chorus Dunbar Voices, a community chorus of local adults, young people and children and an orchestra of young musicians from the East Lothian Instrumental Music Service supported by professional musicians from McOpera and the Maxwell Quartet and alumni of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

Catriona and the Dragon is supported by partners East Lothian Council Instrumental Music Service and East Lothian Council Arts Service (Youth Music Initiative), Dunbar Voices, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, ReUse Scotland SCIO, and Edinburgh College (Media, Music and Sound Production). It is a collaboration with Royal Conservatoire of Scotland MMus Conducting course.

The project partners thank the Misses Barrie Charitable Trust, Creative Scotland, Foundation Scotland, The Hugh Fraser Foundation, The Radcliffe Trust and Stevenston Charitable Trust for their financial support of Catriona and the Dragon.

The world première takes place at Dunbar Parish Church on Wednesday 5th April 2023 at 4pm and 7.15pm

Irene Brown

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