Skip navigation to content

Byre Opera

‌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 audiences in St Andrews and beyond. 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 Music Centre's Honorary Professor of Singing, Brian Bannatyne-Scott and Head of Vocal Studies, Jonathan May.

The Byre auditorium is ideally suited to intimate productions of small-scale opera, and the company's productions there have included all three of Benjamin Britten's ground-breaking chamber operas – Rape of Lucretia (2010), Albert Herring (2014), and Turn of the Screw (2016) – as well as Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride (2015, in a new English translation specially produced by Honours Modern Languages students taking an opera translation module under the guidance of Dr Julia Prest), and chamber versions of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (2012) and Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen (2017). Byre Opera's productions regularly tour around Scotland (to date the company has performed in Perth, Greenock and Edinburgh), and the company enjoys a close collaboration with the Maltings Theatre in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where its last three productions have been very well received. In 2018 the company made its debut in London with two very successful performances of Xerxes at the Priory Church of the Order of St John, Clerkenwell. 

Forthcoming productions

  • June/July 2019: a double bill of Madeleine Dring's Cupboard Love and Ralph Vaughan Williams' Riders to the Sea  

  • June/July 2020: a new chamber version of Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, orchestral reduction by Matthew Rooke, translation by Janice Galloway

We will be considering singers for roles in both these productions at our next round of auditions which will take place between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Wednesday 10 October. For any enquiries about these auditions, future productions or the company's work in general, please contact either Michael Downes or Jonathan May

We are delighted to announce that PJ Harris, who directed our very successful production of The Cunning Little Vixen, will be returning to direct both the 2019 and 2020 productions. The Dring/Vaughan Williams double bill will be performed in late June in St Andrews and Berwick-upon-Tweed, and also (subject to funding) in other smaller venues around Scotland in early July; exact dates to be announced soon. Pelléas et Mélisande will be performed in St Andrews, Berwick-upon-Tweed and London. 

Previous productions

Handel: Xerxes (2018)

SHINE: Science Meets Opera (with St Andrews Voices) (2018)

Janáček: The Cunning Little Vixen (2017)

Britten: The Turn of the Screw (2016)

Gluck: Iphigénie en Tauride (2015)

Britten: Albert Herring (2014)

Handel: Acis and Galatea (2013)

Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin (2012)

Eccles: The Judgment of Paris and Berkeley: A Dinner Engagement (2011)

Britten: The Rape of Lucretia (2010)

Monteverdi: Heaven or Hell? (Il ballo dell'ingrate) and Purcell: Dido and Aeneas (2009)

 ‌220 wide

Most Recent Photo Gallery

A testament to the quality of the music-making at St Andrews” Keith Bruce, The Herald
A huge round of applause to all concerned for putting on a production a professional company would have been proud of” Garry Fraser, The Courier
Fabulous young, fresh voices in sharp & witty production with @FitzwilliamQt & friends brilliantly conducted by inspirational Michael Downes. Highly recommendedDonald Macleod, Presenter of Composer of the Week on BBCRadio3