Scottish Opera travels to locations from Dumfries to Galloway to Western Isles with pop-up summer tour

Jessica Leary and Andrew McTaggart in A Little Bit of Eugene Onegin. Scottish Opera 2018. (Photo: Sally Jubb)

THIS SUMMER, Scottish Opera’s popular Pop-up Opera tour kicks off on 27 May at the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, with 30 minute shows for all the family, including A Little Bit of… Die Fledermaus and A Little Bit of… Eugene Onegin.

Experience opera on a miniature scale with performances brought to life by a storyteller, two singers, instrumentalists, and a sumptuous set of specially created illustrations. Touring to venues in Linlithgow, South Lanarkshire, Glasgow, the Isle of Lewis, Strathpeffer, Dornoch, Dundee and Aberdeenshire (venue TBC). School children can also look forward to the tour popping up in primary schools across these locations for free performances of Puffy MacPuffer and the Crabbit Canals.

An ideal opportunity for anyone new to opera to try a taster of these classics, a series of colourful illustrations help guide audiences through the plot. Cleverly re-scored by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark, the stories are brought to life by storyteller Allan Dunn, along with singers Jessica Leary and Andrew McTaggart, and cellist Andrew Drummond Huggan, guitarists Sasha Savaloni and Ian Watt.

Scottish Opera’s Director of Outreach & Education, Jane Davidson, said: ‘This year, the Pop-up Opera company are coming off their trailer and back inside schools and community halls across the country, with a blend of weekday visits to primary schools and week-end performances in public venues. Travel is still very much at the heart of our programme, introducing primary pupils to the adventures of a very small boat with a very big heart as Puffy MacPuffer sets sail on the Scottish canal network from Inverness to Crinan and from Grangemouth to Glasgow.

‘For older audiences, it’s time travel, as we journey back to the last decades of the nineteenth century with two contrasting love stories. Will it be the doomed love affair of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin or perhaps a glass of champagne with the original Batman— better known as Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II. The magic of time travel makes it possible to catch both in one afternoon!’

Scottish Opera’s General Director, Alex Reedijk said: ‘Pop-up Opera is at the heart of what we do as a company, bringing opera to as many people as possible no matter their geographical location, ensuring everyone can enjoy a live musical experience. 

‘During the pandemic, Pop-up Opera highlighted the importance of our national touring profile as it allowed local venues, whilst unable to open their doors, to facilitate our live performances in their carparks and open spaces. Between 2020 and 2021 we presented 246 sold out Pop-up performances to communities across Scotland, which attracted an audience of over 13,000. For many, it was the first time they had come to a live show since 2019, many braving wind and rain to attend.

‘Therefore, it is with great joy that we are back on the road as we continue our commitment to tour to communities across Scotland, with these bite-sized productions offering an excellent introduction to opera, this time in schools and local venues.’

Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (The Bat) is a rip-roaring comedy filled with deceit, betrayal, and Viennese waltzes. At Prince Orlofsky’s New Year’s Eve party, Dr Falke is out for playful revenge on his friend Eisenstein, who once left him in a drunken stupor after a night out at a fancy dress ball. Left to stagger home alone the next morning, still in his bat costume, the locals laughed behind Dr Falke’s back, but now is his chance for payback. Falke plots to expose Eisenstein’s flirtatious ways to his wife Rosalinde, who is disguised as a Hungarian countess. The end result is hilarity – and lots of champagne.

Also on offer is Tchaikovsky’s sweeping music which perfectly captures the desperation and raw emotion of Pushkin’s much-loved masterpiece, Eugene Onegin. In this timeless story of first love and missed opportunities, the lovesick young Tatyana sends a heartfelt letter to the young, handsome neighbour who recently moved next door. However, the arrogant Eugene thoughtlessly spurns her affections. After a heart-stopping duel between friends and the passing of many years, perhaps there is a second chance for love.

Created specifically for five to eight year olds, with music & songs by Marion Christie, Puffy MacPuffer and the Crabbit Canals is a tale of the five waterways that link Scotland from the North Sea to the Atlantic. Like most families, each one is different: Caledonian – the longest; Crinan – the most beautiful; Monklands – hard working; Union – the fastest; and of course the wise old Forth & Clyde. Each one thinks they’re the best. Can an ordinary little puffer boat make them think again?

Pop-up Opera is supported by Friends of Scottish Opera.

Tickets are on sale at from 23 March. 

Dates and locations of the tour are listed below.

Performance Diary:

A’ the Airts Community Arts Centre, Sanquhar

Saturday  27 May, 1pm & 3pm

Glencairn Memorial Institute, Moniaive

Sunday 28 May, 1pm & 3pm

Linlithgow Burgh Halls

Saturday 3 June, 12pm & 2pm

David Livingstone Birthplace, Blantyre 

Sunday 4 June, 12pm, 2pm & 4pm

Springburn Auditorium

Sunday 11 June, 12pm, 2pm & 4pm

An Lanntair, Stornoway

Saturday 17 June, 2pm & 4pm

West Church Hall, Dornoch 

Saturday 24 June, 2pm & 4pm

Strathpeffer Pavillion 

Sunday 25 June, 2pm & 4pm

Little Theatre Dundee

Sunday 2 July 2pm & 4pm

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