By Rory Reynolds
THEY are used to reciting the verses of Puccini’s Tosca and Mozart’s Figaro, but the cream of Scottish Opera are to shun tradition in favour of belting out baby-friendly noises.
Stage bosses have announced a series of bizarre experimental opera concerts are to be held for tots as young as 18 months old.
The Baby O shows are being rolled out to determine if opera could have the ‘Mozart Effect’ on youngsters’ development.
Jane Davison, education director of Scottish Opera, said that they will encourage the audience to gurgle along with the performers to get fully involved with the show.
She said “When I first mentioned the idea of opera for babies, some people looked at me as though I was demented.
“People would roll their eyes and say, ‘you can’t expect a six-month-old child to sit through a performance of Wagner’.
“Of course, that was never going to happen, but some people still have fixed opinions of what they perceive opera to be.
“We believe this project will show just how robust and flexible an art form it is.”
The performers will use their finely tuned vocal powers to emulate splashes from Wellington boots, buzzing bees and quacking ducks, as well using hand puppets and a range of props to entertain youngsters.
But as well as treated the audience to a giggle, Jane said she hoped that the experience would help the development of the young people in the audience.
Recent studies have shown that playing music to babies can boost their IQs and health, the so-called Mozart Effect.
Jane said: “My goal was to create a performance piece, but at the risk of sounding pompous, I wanted to contribute to the body of academic research about when tiny infants actually start to listen.
Slightly like Bach
“We are much more interested in having sounds rather than a narrative.
“The whole score is vocal music and doesn’t have any words apart from the occasional bump, however one piece has a slightly Bach feel to it.
“We are much more interested in having sounds rather than a narrative.”
She said that parents at the performances will be given recordings of the production and encouraged to play it at home, and added that the initial trial performance had gone well.
Jane added: “It sounds a bit mad, but in the production they drop a feather from five or six feet and there is a harmonised chord of different voices following its downward cadences – it is just lovely.
“We expected it to be quite noisy but we were delighted when we saw the happy expressions on their wee faces.”
Scottish Opera, which receives an annual grant of £8million from the government, are to stage the baby opera at arts venues across Scotland, when the tour begins next month, including Edinburgh’s Storytelling Centre, the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen and Eden Court in Inverness.
They will also put on the performance at community centres in deprived areas, including Tillydrone in Aberdeen and Craigmillar in Edinburgh.