Singer returns to St Andrews for ambitious opera

Scottish Opera baritone Ben McAteer is returning to St Andrews for university's Gilbert and Sullivan Society's ambitious project to perform Sullivan's greatest choral work, The Golden Legend. (Picture by Matthew William-Ellis.)
Scottish Opera baritone Ben McAteer is returning to St Andrews for university's Gilbert and Sullivan Society's ambitious project to perform Sullivan's greatest choral work, The Golden Legend. (Picture by Matthew William-Ellis.)

A leading opera star is to return to his alma mater to join St Andrews University’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society for an ambitious project.

The society is to perform Sullivan’s greatest choral work, The Golden Legend, and is delighted to be welcoming back former president Ben McAteer.

Now an emerging artist with Scottish Opera, he was most recently seen in Fife for the company’s tour of Cosi fan tutte last autumn.

He is returning to sing the role of Lucifer, who unsuccessfully tries to scupper two lovers, in The Golden Legend.

While a student at St Andrews, Ben was also one of the first leading lights of the university’s opera company, now called Byre Opera. He will be joined by three former Byre Opera and G&S Society stars well-known to music lovers in St Andrews and further afield - Caroline Taylor, Emma Rettie, and Laurie Slavin.

Joining them will be a choir made up of society members alongside members of the local community, as well as St Andrews Brass, fresh from recent success with the St Andrews Brass Festival.

Society president Peter Sutton said: “This is the most ambitious concert the society has staged to date. Not only are we thrilled to welcome back four of our professional alumni, but we are also working with St Andrews Brass and other

members of our local town-gown community to bring this fantastic piece to life, all under the baton of acclaimed local conductor Gillian Craig.

“We are passionate about maintaining and promoting close links with our local university and broader community and with our alumni, so I am especially thrilled that this concert unites both these aims so wonderfully.

The new arrangement has been painstakingly created by two of members, James Green and Lauren Macleod.

“It is also one of the finest pieces of Victorian music, and was second only to Handel’s Messiah in its number of performances before the First World War,” said Peter. “I can hardly wait and we hope to see Holy Trinity filled to the rafters.”

The concert will take place in Holy Trinity Church at 7pm on Saturday, February 13, with a free pre-concert talk at 6pm featuring local renowned Sullivan scholar the Very Rev Dr Ian Bradley.

Tickets cost £12 (full), £10 (concessions), and £8 (students) and can be reserved by e-mailing gssocmail@standrews.ac.uk