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From aria to energy

Arias will accompany ground-breaking green energy production when Byre Opera, the University of St Andrews opera company, performs at the University’s biomass plant within the Eden Campus Energy Centre Guardbridge next month.

The £25m plant on the east side of the former paper mill site houses a biomass boiler which uses clean, sustainable fuel from sources across Scotland to produce hot water. This water is then pumped four miles underground to St Andrews where it heats University buildings. In 2016 the Eden Campus Energy Centre won the prestigious Sustainable Development Award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards.

Now the plant’s industrial setting will provide a unique backdrop for two short contrasting operas – Vaughan Williams tragic operatic tale Riders to the Sea and the European premier of Madeleine Dring’s dark comic opera Cupboard Love. A cast made up of students and recent graduates will perform the operas, both to be sung in English, in the large open space of the plant, June 18-20. The productions will be in the hands of a dynamic and imaginative professional team of theatre industry creatives.

Michael Downes, Director of Music at the University, said: “We hope the experience of performing close to audiences in an unusual context will draw a new intimacy and level of detail in performance from our singers, while also encouraging new people to attend our productions.”

Byre Opera was formed in 2008 to provide stage experience for students, with guidance from performing arts professionals, while offering high-quality operatic performances to audiences. The company performs in St Andrews every summer, before touring. After this year’s biomass performances the operas will be presented at The Peace Church in Berwick-upon-Tweed and, as part of an education outreach project, at Liniclate School on the Isle of Benbecula.


Tickets are priced £16, £14 (concessions, Music Centre members) and £10 (students/U26) and are available on the Byre Theatre website or by calling 01334 475000.

The event will be held at the Biomass Plant, Eden Campus Energy Centre, Guardbridge, Nr St Andrews KY16 0UU.

Dates: Tuesday 18, Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 June 2019, 7.30pm

Performance is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes long, including interval:
Riders to the Sea: 42 minutes
Cupboard Love: 25 minutes
Interval: 25 minutes

Free on site parking. Interval refreshments available.

Easy access using Stagecoach 99 bus St Andrews-Dundee route


Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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