Pop-Up Opera Tour 2021 – Week 4

Isle of Lewis

On the 26th July our tour ventured to its furthest destination, the Isle of Lewis. This island provides beautiful and dramatic landscapes and is located just off the west coast of Scotland. The Isle of Lewis is connected to the Isle of Harris, together they form the main island in the Outer Hebrides.

In order to begin our Hebridean adventure, we boarded the Ferry from Ullapool in the morning and excitedly found seats on the top deck so we could watch the Ferry disembark at 10.30 with the hope to see dolphins and whales. The weather was windy but the sunshine was glorious and kept us in great spirits.

We managed to spot a dolphin swimming and occasionally jumping in the wake of the boat. However Laura and Ann took the animal watching gold medal as they spotted whales. Two hours and 30 minutes later we arrived in Stornoway the largest town on the island. We settled in and prepared ourselves for our upcoming performances.

On Tuesday 27th July we drove to Tong Community Hall and performed two shows. Sadly the good weather had dissipated and we were worried how this would affect our outdoor audiences. Yes, numbers were fewer, but the spirits were high and we had an absolute blast sharing the stories of HMS Pinafore and the Pirates of Penzance with the local audience.

We appreciated their good humour and willingness to join in the dance moves, which had the added bonus of keeping our bodies warm under wet conditions. In between shows we kept ourselves entertained by sight-singing four-part harmonies from Bach chorales to Disney tunes. Here is a short clip of the team singing And So it Goes by Billy Joel.

Our next location was Spòrsnis, a recreational centre in Lionel, which caters for a variety of sporting activities and a fantastic spot for children’s birthday parties thanks to the Ten Pin Bowling alley and soft play area, sadly the bowling alley was very popular and we couldn’t get a game in between shows. But it was probably for the best, competition between company members could have got feisty – haha!

Luckily the rain paused on Thursday and we were able to do a little sight-seeing before the afternoon shows. Ian, (guitarist) thinking quickly on his feet, found a route to the performance location that would pass by the Calanais Standing Stones, a piece of history we were all keen to visit. It has been said that the Calanais Standing Stones are an ancient centre of power, a testament to the skills and determination of the people who lived here 4,000 years ago. The stones were probably transported using brute strength, rollers and wood frames. The purpose of the stones remains a mystery, during the Neolithic period and bronze age stone circles were built across Scotland. People constructed large monuments of stone and earth, perhaps to give the local community a common identity or to provide a place of worship.

After our history excursion, we arrived at the Grinneabhat Centre in Bragar, a community business that welcomes visitors to enjoy a spot of lunch in their homely café, a place to rest their heads, and now enjoy some pop-up opera! We performed here twice and the final show of the day was a real treat as a little boy joined in with our musical numbers by singing along and copying the dance moves. A burst of happy energy to keep you warm on a cold and windy day. I would like to take this moment to thank Heather Moger from An Lanntair, a multi arts venue based in Stornoway who helped our team feel at home at the three locations on the Isle of Lewis.

We prepared ourselves for the long journey back to Glasgow on Friday, but not without enjoying some local culture in Stornoway first. We had the pleasure of visiting Museum Nan Eilean at Lews Castle, which offered an interactive exhibition of the history and culture of the Outer Hebrides. It was a celebration of local memories and housed a collection of The Lewis Chessmen. A collection of chess pieces which were found in a cove on the Isle of Lewis. The pieces have found popular appeal thanks to their interesting and mysterious history and their characterful carvings. I really like their bulging eyes and my favourite was the grumpy queen who rests her chin in her hands, as if nursing a toothache or fretting about the weather.

For a closer look at the finely worked walrus ivory and whale teeth chess pieces watch this interesting video about where they were found and their history.

After our spot of history we queued up to board the Ferry to Ullapool and arriving there around 17:00. Laura and I then shared the 5 hour drive back to Glasgow. On Sunday we had the exciting prospect of performing two evening shows at Edinburgh Zoo. We are back there next week so I shall save the zoo details for next week’s post.

57 thoughts on “Pop-Up Opera Tour 2021 – Week 4

    1. You’re most welcome John, I’m sorry I haven’t been visiting everyone’s blogs this tour so I hope you and all the family including Lucy and Tiggy are well and enjoying summer. I’ll be back to normal in September I think.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. We were supposed to be getting a heatwave mid-August but new reports are saying it’s looking damp, I’m just keeping my fingers crossed especially for my Mum’s birthday on 15th August because all my family are coming up to Scotland to see the show.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  1. Such a remarkable and fascinating post, Charlotte. As I play chess, I found the video of the Lewis Chess pieces fascinating. The ferry ride video, gave me a feeling of relaxation. And while I have heard Billy Joel sing And So It Goes, LIVE, I was taken by the snippet of your haunting version here. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Annette 😊. I love chess too, although my brother is better at chess than me, so it wasn’t much fun.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Merci Pascal, I hope that you are enjoying your road trip 😊.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Awww, I think my team is up there again on 28th August Shehanne sadly without me (wedding day), but I can recommend the shows with the lovely Jessica Leary taking over from me. They are such fun, happy shows. I’m in Glasgow this weekend (my old stomping ground) in HMS Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance and for a one-off special we’ve learnt some of the Gondoliers songs, we’re in rehearsal now to join in a whole cast show. Then I’m over to Dumfries on 18th and 19th August and Mussleburgh Racecourse near Edinburgh on 21st August and the 22nd August. It’s been a super tour this year.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. Sounds fabulous. My Mr saw you all setting up he was talking about it later and how it was pop up opera and I thought, that’s Charlotte. I might be able to catch the 28th of August one. Congrats to your big day coming up. That is fabulous too. looking forward to the pics.

    1. It has been an amazing adventure this tour. I’ve seen places I’ve not been to before which is great. As I said on the other post you would love it.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  2. I have just caught up with you, Charlotte. What a wonderful tour, and I enjoy seeing these places through your eyes. I loved the beautiful four part harmony clip, too. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Lavinia so glad you could catch up. I’ll have a lot of catching up to do at the end of the tour too. Glad you enjoyed the little clip.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  3. Great places, Charlotte. Bet the ones saw the show will always remember seeing live professional entertainment in their villages. A trip to those wonderful out of the way places would cost a bundle and not only did it not cost you money, you got paid to do so. Ain’t show biz grand?

    1. You’ve hit the nail right on the head Don, these tours are perfect for visiting Scotland. I’ve seen so many places with Scottish Opera over the past few years it’s amazing. I could probably become a travel co-ordinator hehe.

      Best wishes always,
      Charlotte

    1. Thank you Holly 😊. I’ve loved working with this crew so friendly we’ve got on a treat.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Thank you, so happy to share this lovely tour. See you soon.

      All my best,
      Charlotte x

  4. What incredible opportunities for you to experience on this tour!
    You are a real trooper – performing under the worst conditions – but still performing. Well done.

    1. Scottish Opera do fabulous work with their tours, the outreach is fantastic and I would have loved to experience these pop-ups when I was growing up. I give my 100% as though on a main stage with 1,000’s watching hehe, the van certainly bounces around. G&S is such a favourite and so many people used to do the productions at school.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  5. What a fantastic place! I love Scotland. The tour looks fabulous and you all seem to be having a great time together. Keep up the good work Charlotte. See you soon.🥰😘

    1. I thought of you and Terry when I went up to Inverness. I can recommend some great little hotels and restaurants when you next visit.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  6. What a fantastic post, Charlotte. I have always wanted to visit the Scottish isles so it was wonderful to see your photos and the short film from the ferry. (Friends of mine who farm near us were on North Ronaldsay last week giving the local seaweed-eating sheep mouth swabs!) I loved listening to your beautiful version of And So It Goes! Good luck with the rest of the tour and the wedding, of course!

    1. Thank you Clare, I feel like I’ve been in the middle of a whirlwind, the wedding went wonderfully, in a good part due to my Mum’s fantastic planning. The last two weeks in particular have flown by – I’m on to tour 2 now which is Pirates and a new show for children which I’m absolutely loving, the children were just amazing during our first shows. I’ve got a full week next week two or three shows each day so I’m having a relax today and learning more words and score changes for my next opera which is the role of ‘Pamina’ in the Magic Flute.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte x

      1. I did Clare thanks, I actually had the whole weekend off but worked all day Saturday on preparation. I hope that you and all your family are doing well.
        All my best wishes
        Charlotte

    1. I fell in love with Scotland when I lived here for four years during my undergrad degree, the scenery is just breathtaking, just wish it was a little warmer in autumn and winter 🙃. Although I mustn’t upset the weather fairies they have been very good to us this past few months. Tour two has started well, the children are loving Bubble McBea which makes me so happy.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. It took me a while to get used to it, especially the winds in winter but the last three months have flown by and the weather has been very kind to us.
        All my best wishes
        Charlotte

    1. I’d loved to have fired the cannon I shall put it on my bucket list hehe. thanks for reading.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Thank you for reading Alan I appreciate it. Tour two has started well this week after rehearsals. September is certainly very busy which is fabulous.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  7. My my, what a tour! Your locations are marvellous!
    I’m getting an education following you!
    The clip of you and your cast members singing between performances is stellar.
    Charlotte, the pop up tour you are on is enriching my life.
    I wish we had something like this in Canada.
    There is an outdoor stage in High Park near me, where they do/did Shakespeare during the summer. In Winnipeg there is an outdoor theatre that seats 2600.
    Canada could use a pop up tour like this.
    We could use more cultural artistic exposure.
    Sending my best,
    Resa x

    1. Pop up shows are a great way to hear all the top hits out of each show with a narrator telling the story as we go along. Katie (our narrator) has become a great friend and I’m so happy to have met her on tour one. In fact everyone on tour one made the tour so enjoyable. I wish you had Pop-Up Opera in Canada, if I could book the venues and sell tickets myself I’d bring a show over hehe.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte x

      1. I was thinking the same thing! Canada is so huge, and there are only a few big cities, but many medium towns, that a pop up tour could go for a few years. LOL. Of course there would have to be winter time off, so touring would only be 5 -6 months a year.
        In Winnipeg, there is an outdoor theatre, in a park; Rainbow Stage.It holds 2300 people.
        https://www.rainbowstage.ca/rainbow-stage/
        We need more venues like that!
        I think it’s fabulous that you have made a friend on the tour with you.
        You are making sweet memories!
        Best back to you!
        Resa
        xoxo

      2. Thanks for sending me the venue details I wonder if I could persuade them to put on a show. I’ll get my thinking cap on.

      3. ‘Twould be a dream come true!
        I’ll put my hat on, too!
        There must be someone promoting young opera talent here.

      4. One of my singing teachers started her career in Canada. I love travelling so it’s part of the job I enjoy.

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