The Final Bow

The cast of Scottish Opera’s Opera Highlights take their final bow, and soprano Lucy Hall looks back on the whirlwind tour

 

Where to begin? We are approaching the end of what has been a fantastic tour, and we have been to so many beautiful places. Even the bus journeys have been stunning and we have made some wonderful memories.

We have witnessed some very special wildlife moments too – one of the most memorable being at one of our first locations, Mallaig, where we were fortunate enough to watch Minke whales swimming not far from the shore. A huge flock of gannets swooped overhead, and we watched them for some time, as they forced fish to the surface. That afternoon, on a boat trip, we came within metres of the Minke whales as they breached the water.

Seeing a giant white-tailed sea eagle on Skye was also a highlight, and we begged Rob Coupe, our lovely Company Stage Manager, to stop the bus so we could get a better look. Of course, Rob obliged and we sat in awe of the huge bird gliding so effortlessly through the air, without even needing to flap its wings.

Further north with Safari Steve, a fantastic wildlife guide based around Aviemore, and managed to see golden eagles, including one flashing its talons at some bothersome buzzards that were mobbing it. We also saw the first bolving of red deer stags signalling the start of the rutting season. These kind of moments certainly refreshed and rejuvenated us if we were ever becoming tour-tired, and kept reinforcing what a magical place Scotland is and how lucky we are to be on this tour.

 

Important Pitstops

 

It would be remiss of me not to mention how much great food, lovely local beer and a fair few drams we have experienced because this has been a very important part of the tour for us! Luckily, we are all like-minded people and have been able to share the joys of finding a great pub on arrival in a new location, heading out for lovely coastal and hill walks and hanging out on the deck of the ferries taking in the scenery.

It’s not unusual on a tour like this in close proximity all the time, but we have definitely become close and made some firm friendships heightened by the experiences we have shared together.

You might think there would have been some drama with opera singers on tour, but thankfully, all the drama has been kept for the stage – which leads me to the show!

 

How we have enjoyed recreating the dramatic and musical visions of Director Jack Furness and Liz Rowe. Liz has been fantastic and so energetic with keeping the music fresh and standards high, and it’s great when we are on stage with her and can communicate and interact.

We all respected the show that Jack had devised, and it honestly hasn’t ever felt boring or an effort to perform. His script and linking of the musical excerpts is so clever and witty, and affords each character an emotional journey that can be touching and funny along the way.

 

“It’s been a real joy to perform!”

 

Especially in such close proximity to the audience – the smaller venues have often been amazing fun as we can hear the audience’s comments. The show opens with a section of Madama Butterfly stabbing herself (yes – starting with some impact) and at Carrbridge, with the audience about a metre and a half away, it took real effort to keep it together when a woman on the front row called out, “Don’t do it!”

In another show, I heard a man saying “Ooh, this is very dramatic!”

This kind of interaction is what makes the highlights tour so great. The atmosphere is so intimate and informal sometimes that it makes audience participation unavoidable and it’s so great to embrace that; to see people enjoying the show, make eye contact and say your lines directly to them. The audiences have been amazing, really fed our performances and given great energy. It just shows how important it is for the Opera Highlights tour to exist. People that live in far flung corners of Scotland may not have frequent access to theatre really want to see the shows and clearly enjoy it so much.

Well, it’s been a blast and it’s only right to say a big thank you for everything to Caroline Campbell our Touring Manager who has looked after us so well, to all my colleagues and Rob Coupe and Claire Lowney – thank you for all the laughs and for being a fantastic team. I’ll miss you! And I’ll definitely miss Scotland, too.

With haste, I’ll be back!