Kazakh Composer Debuts “The Bruce” Opera at Glasgow Cathedral

ASTANA – Kazakh composer, pianist and doctoral student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Rakhat-Bi Abdyssagin premiered his opera “The Bruce” at Glasgow Cathedral on Feb. 17, reported the press service of the Kazakh Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

Photo credit: gov.kz

The production featured soloists, the chorus and conductors from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The opera opened with a ten-minute organ overture played by Abdyssagin, accompanied by a lively reading by poet Alan Reach, professor of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow.

There was a full house in the cathedral on the day of the premiere, with prominent scholars, historical researchers, representatives of the musical arts, writers, journalists, and locals attending the cathedral opera.

The opera is inspired by one of Scotland’s most famous kings and military leaders, Robert the Bruce and tells of a king whose military successes played a key role in preserving Scottish independence.

Photo credit: gov.kz

The libretto was based on John Barbour’s eponymous poem written around 1375, and it is a major part of Abdyssagin’s doctoral research at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Abdyssagin consulted many authoritative historians and literary critics of Scotland regarding the libretto and historical context. Honored Artist of Kazakhstan Gabit Nesipbaev was one of the experts on the organ part.

“I have worked with leading linguists and historians to establish and to research the historical context as well as the pronunciation of early Scots, and we have done considerable work in deciphering the text both metaphorically and directly. The music is carefully calibrated and utilizes the grandeur of the organ to create a magnificent sonic universe within the cathedral space,” said Abdyssagin, describing the opera experience in the cathedral.

The venue for the debut also was not chosen by chance: it was at Glasgow Cathedral that Robert the Bruce was first recognized as King of Scotland.

Abdyssagin’s opera will be staged in three more venues: St. Giles’ Cathedral Edinburgh on Feb. 21, at the University of St. Andrews, St. Salvator’s Chapel on Feb. 24 and in Dunfermline Abbey on March 3.

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