Robert Burns might not appear to have much in common with Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on the face of it, but Scottish Opera begs to differ.
It reckons the pair – almost exact contemporaries, the former having been born at Alloway, near Ayr, in 1759 and having died in 1796 at the age of 37; and the latter first seeing the light of day hundreds of miles east in Salzburg in 1756 and dying in 1791 aged just 35 – are kindred spirits and has come up with a show exploring what they had in common.
Amadeus and the Bard: 18th Century Cosmic Brothers – being given its premiere next Monday, September 9, at Earlston High School at 7pm – is created and directed by Mary McCluskey, a former artistic director of the Scottish Youth Theatre.
It stars Andy Clark as the storyteller alongside baritone Arthur Bruce and soprano Stephanie Stanway.
They mix up traditional folk songs with some of Mozart’s best-known tunes, overseen by music director Karen MacIver, to create a tale set in Poosie Nansie’s Inn in Mauchline, East Ayrshire.
After its opening night in the Borders, the production will hit the road and call in at other schools in Kirkcudbright, Annan, Auchinleck, Ayr and Paisley, as well as the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and Scottish Opera’s production studios in Glasgow.
Other cast members include Cara Blaikie, Ross Fettes, James McIntyre and Erin Spence.
Works by the Bard of Ayrshire featured include Tam O’Shanter and A Red, Red Rose.
McCluskey said: “It is our intention for our merry band of talented performers, singers, actors and musicians to give you an insight into the work of Mozart and Burns.
“We hope to entertain and inform you, in order that you will leave knowing more than you did when you came along to see the production, and that we will have whetted your appetite for the work of these two talented men.”
Jane Davidson, Scottish Opera’s director of outreach and education, added: “Amadeus and the Bard affords us some fascinating glimpses into the often parallel lives of Robert Burns and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, cultural icons of the 18th century whose musical and literary voices have inspired people through the generations down to the present day. So the warmest of welcomes is extended to everyone to join our dynamic young company of performers around the fireside in Poosie Nansie’s hostelry for an hour of songs, ensembles, arias and poetry.”
Tickets cost £11 or, for those under the age of 26, £6. For further details, go to www.scottishopera.org.uk/amadeus