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 two productions have been very well received.

Handel: Xerxes

Director: Tania Holland Williams, Musical Director: Michael Downes

Byre Opera's project for 2018 will be a fully staged production of Handel's Xerxes, to be directed by Tania Holland Williams, whose productions of Britten's Albert Herring and Turn of the Screw were highly praised by audiences and the national press. Set and costume designs will be by Gregor Donnelly, who collaborated with Tania on Turn of the Screw. The production will also feature a professional period-instrument orchestra, to be led by members of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet and conducted by Michael Downes.

There will be three performances of the production in the Byre Theatre in the week before graduation (w.b. 18 June), followed by further performances in the Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed (30 June and 1 July). It is also hoped to tour the production elsewhere - details will be confirmed shortly.

Auditions for this production will take place on the afternoon and evening of Weds 11 October. To book an audition slot, please contact the Music Centre Office. For any enquiries about the production or the company's work in general, please contact Michael Downes.

Previous productions

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)

 ‌Poster 220 pixels wide

Most Recent Photo Gallery

a hugely impressive piece of work” Iain Fraser, Opera Scotland
beautifully sung and strongly characterised performances” Iain Fraser, Opera Scotland
A testament to the quality of the music-making at St Andrews” Keith Bruce, The Herald