Students innovative collaboration marks UK first for St Andrews

Monday 15 June 2015

Students at the University of St Andrews have played an important role in a unique new collaboration between academia and music.

As part of an innovative translation module, the language degree students have created a completely new translation of a French opera, which will be performed for the first time by fellow St Andrews students at the Byre Theatre this week (15 June 2015 to 18 June 2015).

Opera at the Byre Theatre

The staging marks the first production of the Gluck’s Iphigenie in Tauris in almost 20 years, and is the first to be produced by Byre Opera (formerly known as St Andrews Opera) under its new name.

Iphigenie – to be staged over three performances on Monday 15 June, Wednesday 17 June and Thursday 18 June 2015 – also marks the first opera to be hosted by the Byre Theatre since its re-opening under the management of the University in the autumn of 2014.

Originally in French, the opera’s libretto was translated into English in the first collaboration between the University’s French Department and Music Centre. The translation marks the debut of the work of students on the innovative ‘Translating French Opera’ module as part of their Modern Languages degree course, an initiative unique in the UK.

Under the guidance of Senior French Lecturer Dr Julia Prest and University Music Director Dr Michael Downes, the students collectively produced the modern translation, which will be premiered by their peers in the new production this week.

Iphigenie in Tauris has only been performed three times in Scotland professionally; and this will be the first production in almost 20 years.

The cast consists of a number of the University’s prominent vocal students and leading young professionals, including baritone Andrew McTaggart. The singers will perform alongside London-based professional period instrument ensemble Ars Eloquentiae and the renowned Fitzwilliam String Quartet, as part of a week-long residency by the two instrumental groups.

The opera will be conducted by Dr Michael Downes, who is also artistic director of the Byre Theatre. He said, “St Andrews is increasingly becoming a significant part of the student opera scene in the UK as more and more talented singers come to study here. The University offers excellent coaching opportunities allowing young voices to grow in stature before some go on to conservatory and the professional world. In St Andrews, young singers have the opportunity to develop the essential modern languages in great depth, while gaining extensive performance experience”.

The St Andrews’ production, which presents a contemporary exploration of the opera’s timeless themes of family, friendship and national identity, is directed by Teaching Fellow and Director of Teaching at the University’s Music Department, Dr Jane Pettegree.

Notes to editors:


Monday 15th June 2015 19:00 Byre Theatre

Wednesday 17th June 19:00 Byre Theatre

Thursday 18th June 19:00 Byre Theatre


£16, £12 (concessions and Music Centre members), £6 (students and those under 26)

Advance tickets available from the Byre box office, 01334 475000

Special offer: Opera ticket holders can enjoy a two-course meal with a glass of wine for just £12.95 prior to the performance for which they have tickets.

Please book in advance at the Byre Box Office.

Byre Opera

Since its foundation in 2008, Byre Opera (formerly known as St Andrews Opera) has gone from strength to strength, with each production providing a new opportunity for the University’s most talented performers to present a high-quality operatic experience to St Andrews audiences.

Notes to picture editiors:

Images are available via dropbox. Please credit Oli Walker.

Category Student experience

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