In January 2010, Douglas Nairne and Alistair Digges decided that they would create a production of Puccini’s La Bohème to be performed in their home towns and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. After the overwhelming success of their initial performances, they decided to take La Bohème further and toured around Scotland. The experience the young cast and audiences shared was very special and following feedback from audience members around the country, expressing their enthusiasm and desire to see more productions, Opera Bohemia was formed. Now in its ninth year, Opera Bohemia has added highly successful performances of Donizetti’s Lucia Di Lammermoor, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and Gianni Schicchi, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Verdi’s La traviata and Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers to its achievements.
The company has performed at over forty venues across Scotland with highlights including the first opera at the new Beacon Arts Centre (Greenock) and an invitation to perform Madame Butterfly in London. The performance took place in Middle Temple and helped raise over a quarter of a million pounds for the Muir Maxwell Trust. Since then, the company has embarked on two successful English tours. 2013 saw the formation of the Opera Bohemia Ensemble, a chamber orchestra showcasing some of Scotland’s most talented young musicians. The orchestra made its first appearance at the company’s opening performances of Eugene Onegin and they continue to perform at many of the larger venues.
2017 saw the company launch it’s education project, taking free opera workshops to hundreds of school children round Scotland. The workshops visited twelve regions and focused on introducing opera in a fun and exciting way, while tying in with with the school music curriculum. The company were delighted that many of the students who took part came along to see the full production of The Pearl Fishers. The workshops return for the 2018 season.
Opera Bohemia exists as a registered charity, with three main goals.
• To produce more operatic performances across Scotland.
• To create opportunities for professional artists in all areas of opera.
• To introduce opera to first time opera goers and a younger generation in a dynamic way.
The cast is gathered together in Glasgow for just over a week before the opening performance. The group is comprised of passionate individuals, driven by their love for their art and their enthusiasm to increase the availability of opera to a wider audience. They continue to tour their operas to more remote areas of Scotland where the opportunity to experience their modern interpretation of these famous operas, performed by rising operatic stars, has proved hugely popular.
Opera Bohemia Trustees: Paul Hagan, David McLellan, Stephen Robertson
“Although this was a Fringe show, I rather got the feeling that it could have been acceptably transported up to the Queen’s Hall with an Edinburgh International Festival label.”
David Smythe – bachtrack.com
“a triumph and a master class in how to present a hugely popular and well – known opera on a
small stage with a reduced number of singers and a small but perfectly formed orchestra!”
Shirley Streets – Edinburgh Fringe online review
“Working with Opera Bohemia was an absolute privilege. This is what opera is all about from a grass roots level. The standard of the production we put together in such a short space of time exceeded my expectations”
Stephen Chambers – Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor
“The buzz I get from working in, what has become in each production, a close knit company is incredible”
John Wilkie – Director of La Bohème and Lucia di Lammermoor
“This young exceptionally talented musical company brings wonderful emotional intensity to every production. Opera lovers are and will continue to be enchanted by Opera Bohemia”
Peter Easson – Regular Opera goer