Well-known favourites –and surprises

SCOTTISH Opera is packing up the piano once again as Opera Highlights heads off on a 15-date Scottish tour, including appearances at Langholm and Galashiels.

The performance features arias, duets and ensembles from well-known operas including The Magic Flute (Mozart), La Traviata (Verdi), Don Pasquale (Donizetti) and The Merry Widow (Lehár), as well as music by Handel and Rossini.

A number of lesser-known works to surprise even the opera buffs will also be heard.

Scottish Opera’s head of music Derek Clark handpicks each song, and said: “As well as choosing familiar favourites, I try to introduce something that people won’t recognise.

“There’s also a couple of pieces from operas in our current season – we have excerpts from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Bizet’s Carmen.

“This is a very different experience from going to a full opera and I hope people will enjoy the more informal and intimate atmosphere that Opera Highlights creates. “It’s a great way to try opera for the first time.”

A cast of four talented young singers: winner of the 2010 Ferrier Competition Njabulo Madlala; Scottish Opera emerging artist Marie Claire Breen; mezzo-soprano Catherine Hopper and tenor Nicholas Watts – together with pianist Alison Luz – will bring the works to life in a semi-staged performance directed by Dafydd Burne-Jones.

Opera Highlights is at the Buccleuch Centre, Langholm, on Tuesday (phone 013873 81196) and at Galashiels’ Volunteer Hall on Thursday, February 10 (01896 759655).

Tickets cost £11 (£5 for under 26s) for both dates.