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Accessible shows available for Scottish Opera's production of Don Giovanni

By Kyle Ritchie

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Scottish Opera is offering an Access afternoon show of Don Giovanni when it comes to Aberdeen in June.

It is specially created for those who enjoy a more relaxed theatre experience. Everyone is welcome, and particularly those who are living with dementia, recovering from an operation, have breathing difficulties, have a young baby, can only travel to the theatre in the daytime, or would simply benefit from the laid back and spacious nature of these productions.

These fully-staged, shorter versions of Mozart’s masterpiece run alongside the company’s full-length performances directed by Sir Thomas Allen at His Majesty's Theatre, Eden Court Inverness, Festival Theatre Edinburgh and Theatre Royal Glasgow.

While the company has performed dementia friendly shows in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow previously, this is the first time it has offered this type of performance — which has the same values at its core.

The Aberdeen show will be held in His Majesty's Theatre on Friday, June 17, at 3pm.

Lea Shaw and Roland Wood feature in Scottish Opera's production of Don Giovanni.
Lea Shaw and Roland Wood feature in Scottish Opera's production of Don Giovanni.

With doors opening 45 minutes before the start, it allows time to get settled in before the performance begins. The brighter lighting levels in the auditorium let audience members come in and out as they please, and there is no need to keep quiet or sit still during the show.

Quiet areas will also be made available if audience members need a break during the performance, with the option to watch from TV screens around the theatre if they do not wish to sit in the auditorium.

There are wheelchair spaces and extra staff on hand to help. Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the Don Giovanni Access performances are narrated by assistant director Mark Burns, helping guide audiences through the story as it is performed.

Scottish Opera’s general director Alex Reedijk said: "Scottish Opera is determined to help everyone return to the thrill and entertainment of live performance, no matter how their lives may have changed in the past three years.

"Everyone is always welcome to attend the theatre, and with these more relaxed performances we aim to make it even easier and more comfortable to help with any anxieties people may have about being in a theatre for the first time since the pandemic.

"We also hope these performances encourage those who wouldn’t normally attend to feel more relaxed and enjoy their theatre experience, without the worry of making noise, crowded spaces or restricted movement.

"We are delighted to work with our venue partners in Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow in delivering Access Don Giovanni."

Scottish Opera staged the UK’s first dementia friendly opera performance in November 2016 at Festival Theatre Edinburgh, with The Marriage of Figaro.

The company has since developed these pioneering shows to allow an even wider audience to enjoy as easy and stress-free opera experiences as possible.

With music curated by Scottish Opera’s head of music Derek Clark he also conducts The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and a full cast of singers. These include former Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Arthur Bruce (The Gondoliers 2022) and Shengzhi Ren (Opera Highlights 2022), along with Tim Dickinson, Elena Xanthoudakis (Elisir d’amore 2009), Edwin Kaye, Katherine Crompton, Annie Reilly (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2022) and Colin Murray.

Designed by award-winning Simon Higlett, the revival production is set in the backstreets of 17th century Venice. Full of corruption, lust and darkness, it’s the perfect hunting ground of the amorous, Don Giovanni.

It is here that the Don meets and sets his sights on Donna Anna, but when her father intervenes, it costs him his life at the hands of the Don Giovanni’s brute violence.

As the shadows close in and the mistakes of his past begin to catch up with him, the Don’s tangled web of lies and betrayal begin to unravel.

Tickets for Access performances are supported by The Scottish Opera Syndicate and are free for school groups – booking fees may apply.

For more information visit www.scottishopera.org.uk/shows/access-don-giovanni

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