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The sopranos

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University of St Andrews singers became green energy sopranos today when members of the opera company rehearsed in the unique setting of a biomass plant.

Over three days (18 to 20 June) Byre Opera, the University opera company, will perform two short operas at the University’s £25 million green energy plant at Guardbridge.

The industrial setting provided an unusual backdrop for the performers who are more used to singing on stage than surrounded by ground-breaking green energy.

Dr Michael Downes, Director of Music at the University, said: “The biomass plant is an amazing building in the middle of a beautiful site on the Eden estuary. We thought it would be a fantastic situation for an opera about our relationship to the environment. We hope our audiences enjoy hearing our student singers in this very special environment.”

The cast of students and recent graduates will perform Vaughan Williams’ tragic operatic tale Riders to the Sea and the European premier of Madeleine Dring’s dark comic opera Cupboard Love, both to be sung in English, in the large open space of the plant.

The fusion of ground-breaking opera and state-of-the art energy is set to create a once in a lifetime entertainment experience.

Tickets for the performances are available via the Byre Theatre website.


The biomass plant at the Eden Campus at Guardbridge is central to the University of St Andrews’ strategic aim to become the UK’s first carbon neutral university for energy usage. Commissioned in December 2016, the £25 million plant on the east side of the former paper mill site produces hot water from a biomass boiler using clean, natural fuels from sustainable sources across Scotland, which is pumped four miles underground to St Andrews where it heats University buildings.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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