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North east babies to get taste of 'baby opera'

By Lewis McBlane

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NORTH east families have a rare chance later this year to catch "opera for babies" BambinO.

Hazel McBain as Uccellina in BambinO...Picture: James Glossop
Hazel McBain as Uccellina in BambinO...Picture: James Glossop

The Scottish Opera production, which features "golden eggs, soft blue cushions, fluffy clouds and soaring notes", is coming to Aberdeen and Banchory in August.

Designed specifically for children under a year old, the opera is designed to fascinate and entertain the most unlikely opera-goers.

The atmosphere is meant to be as welcoming as possible for young ones and parents alike, with the work sung in English and babies encouraged to explore and interact with performers.

Scottish Opera’s director of education and outreach Jane Davidson, said: "We are delighted to be back touring this wonderful production after a four year hiatus.

"This is a magical piece of music theatre specially created for our littlest audience members, who often do not get a look-in at opera, but who greatly benefit from the power of music.

"It is a perfect opportunity to experience opera, created in miniature, through the eyes, ears and imagination of your very own bambinos, as they explore a beautifully crafted world full of golden eggs, soft blue cushions, fluffy clouds and soaring notes."

The work, which follows the story of a fledgeling leaving the nest for the first time, was written by the company’s former composer in residence Lliam Paterson.

Originally, BambinO was directed by Improbable’s Phelim McDermott, but it has been revived for its first post-Covid outing by Lissa Lorenzo.

Celebrating the possibilities of music and the power of the infant imagination, the production tried to reinvent operatic language and traditions for children at an age when their minds are wide open to new sounds, images and experiences.

With bright, welcoming set designed by Emma Belli and Giuseppe Belli, BambinO also features a host of quirky characters with Charlotte Hoather and Samuel Pantcheff playing the roles of Uccellina and Pulcino.

They are accompanied by cellist Andrew Drummond Huggan and percussionist Darren Gallacher, and the music director is Chris Gray.

A co-production with Manchester International Festival and Improbable, BambinO premiered in 2017 and has toured Scotland with dates in Glasgow and the Edinburgh Fringe.

The novel opera has been a it internationally too, with performances at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, The Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman.

BambinO has been supported by Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

The first north east venue hosting the opera will be The Barn in Banchory, with shows on Wednesday, August 24 and Thursday, August 25 at 10am and 11.30am.

Aberdeen is the other north east stop for the intense schedule of performances, with BambinO bringing joy to the Music Hall on Friday, August 26, Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28 at 10am and 11.30am.

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