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Paisley Opera bring The Witches of Paisley production to town

Paisley Opera will present its first major production with two special performances in the town next month.

The Witches of Paisley - a dramatisation of the events of the last ever major witch hunt in Western Europe - will take place at Paisley Abbey on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 December 2017.

Paisley Opera bring The Witches of Paisley production to town

The show is supported by Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund (CHEF) and is being staged in the build-up to Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

The specially-devised production will tell the story of the happenings of the witch trials in and around Paisley in 1697 which led to the execution and burning of seven innocent people for the crime of ‘witchcraft’.

A dramatic narration will weave together singing, drama, and poetry of Paisley’s own ‘weaver poet’, Robert Tannahill, and will feature music written by Verdi, Puccini and more.

The piece has been devised by director, Fiona Williams and Paisley Opera’s founder and Artistic Director, Simon Hannigan, who said: “We are all hugely excited about the prospect of putting on our first major production. We’ve chosen a story familiar to many people in Paisley to try to show how incredibly powerful opera is in putting across the emotions and sufferings of people of all types.

“We really hope that folk who have seen our pop-up performances in supermarkets and shopping malls and who might never have thought of going to an opera house will come to the Abbey and give it a try. The chances are they will discover opera isn’t what they thought it was. We firmly believe that opera can talk directly to all kinds of people.

“Paisley Opera is about making opera in accessible places that welcome people - and that means often unpredictable and unusual places such as the supermarket or shopping mall.

“We are all about opening our doors and inviting people in to watch our work and to work with us. It means sharing a great art with great people. It's a different way of making opera and it needs you to come and be part.”

Paisley 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron added: "We are delighted to be supporting this wonderful project through Renfrewshire's Culture, Heritage and Events Fund.

"Paisley's UK City of Culture 2021 bid aims to give people the chance to take part in and enjoy cultural experiences they might not normally have had, while also developing our local talent by teaming them up with national and international class performers - and Paisley Opera are doing a great job of both of those things.

"The show they are working on is distinctively Paisley and will make a fantastic spectacle - bringing to life some of our unique stories and music in one of our unique venues - and I'm really looking forward to seeing it."

Paisley Opera’s volunteer chorus of over 30 local singers - across a wide range of age and experience - have been rehearsing for the show since the end of February.

The cast includes Jemma Brown, Soprano; Fiona MacDonald, Mezzo; Fraser Simpson, Tenor; Frank Church, Baritone; David Morrison, Bass; Simon Hannigan, Bass.

The choir will be conducted by Jonathon Swinard, Chorus Master at Scottish Opera and one of the UK’s rising young conducting stars.

They will also be joined by 10 professional opera singers who have been regulars with Scottish Opera and other major UK and international opera companies.

Ticket prices are £12/Under 16 £2 and for other concessions please see website: https://paisleyopera.org/events/

For more info tel: 0300 300 1210