Rhinegold Photo credit: Mark Hamilton
Scottish Opera's 2010 production of The Marriage of Figaro

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Scottish Opera to present UK’s first dementia-friendly opera performance

11:42, 31st August 2016

An abridged version of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro will be the UK’s first dementia-friendly opera performance.

With a running time of 1 hour and 45 minutes (including an interval), Scottish Opera’s performance has been designed to make it more accessible to those with dementia.

Sound and lighting levels will be adjusted and the cast will be joined on stage by a narrator. Audience members will be able to go in and out of the auditorium during the performance and watch the show in the foyer areas on tv screens.

Supported by the Life Changes Trust, the performance will take place at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre at 3pm on 12 November.

The role of Figaro will be performed by former Scottish Opera emerging artist Andrew McTaggart, with Lucy Hall as Susanna, Pauls Putnins as Count Almaviva, Marie McLaughlin as Marcellina and Scottish Opera emerging artist Emma Kerr as Cherubino. Allan Dunn will narrate and Timothy Burke will conduct.

The performance is part of Scottish Opera’s run of The Marriage of Figaro at Festival Theatre Edinburgh from 9 to 19 November, which also includes an audio-described performance and touch tour for audience members with visual impairment, a free pre-show talk and a free Unwrapped taster event for those new to opera.

The introduction of dementia-friendly performances builds on Scottish Opera’s existing work with those living with dementia. Since 2010, the company’s education and outreach department has run the ‘Memory Spinners’ programme in Glasgow, which uses music, storytelling, movement and the visual arts to help people with dementia and their carers relax and embrace their creativity. The programme will extend to Edinburgh this autumn, with workshops and performances taking place at the Festival Theatre.

Festival Theatre and its partner venue King’s Theatre also run a programme of events and activities aimed at people living with dementia, their carers and families. The collaborative ‘Forget Me Not’ project, which launched in September 2015, aims to create dementia-friendly communities based around cultural venues, and Festival Theatre will be staging Scotland’s first dementia-friendly performance of a major touring musical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, in October.

Jane Davidson, Scottish Opera’s director of outreach and education, said: ‘Scottish Opera’s Memory Spinners programme for people living with dementia has been going from strength to strength since its launch in 2010, in Glasgow.

‘Now, as we begin to expand the programme to other cities starting with Edinburgh in Autumn of this year, it seemed the perfect opportunity to offer this key group of people in our community the chance to attend a performance that is specially adapted to fulfil their needs and that will help to ensure that they can continue to enjoy live opera in the wonderful setting of Festival Theatre Edinburgh.’


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