Byre Opera is the Music Centre's opera company, renamed in 2014 to reflect its new base in St Andrews' award-winning Byre Theatre. The company was formed by Michael Downes in 2008 as St Andrews Opera, to provide opportunities to gain experience of singing on stage and to offer high-quality operatic performances to St Andrews audiences. The company’s singers are drawn mainly from the undergraduate and postgraduate student bodies, but casts have also included young professionals from throughout the UK, University staff, and singers from the local community. The company's singers have benefited from regular coaching from numerous distinguished international opera singers including the University's Honorary Professor of Singing, Brian Bannatyne-Scott.
The company’s projects have included four highly acclaimed productions in the Byre – Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (2012; a co-production with the London group Bloomsbury Opera) and Britten’s Rape of Lucretia (2010) – both directed by Kally Lloyd-Jones of Company Chordelia and Scottish Opera, Britten's Albert Herring (2014), directed by Tania Holland Williams, which opened in the Byre before touring to the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock and Perth Concert Hall (read reviews here), and most recently Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride, in a new English translation specially produced by Honours Modern Languages students taking an opera translation module under the guidance of Dr Julia Prest. In 2013 the company performed Handel's Acis and Galatea in the Younger Hall and Perth Concert Hall, directed by Jane Pettegree with choreography from Sarah Morton and specially commissioned artwork from Jean Duncan. Read the Opera Scotland review here.
Director: Tania Holland Williams, Musical Director: Michael Downes
Byre Opera's project for 2016 was a fully staged production of Britten's chamber masterpiece, The Turn of the Screw. The production opened at the Byre during graduation week (20–24 June), before touring to the MacRobert Centre in Stirling (Tuesday 28 June), Haddo House in Aberdeenshire (Saturday 2 July), and the Maltings Theatre in Berwick (Friday 8 July) - our most ambitious tour to date, and our first performance across the border!
For any enquiries about the production and the company, please contact Michael Downes.