Students stage nature opera

Byre Opera, the opera company of the University of St Andrews, is bringing its production of Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen to The Maltings this weekend.

Thursday, 22nd June 2017, 11:38 am

The Cunning Little Vixen is based on folk tales of the adventures of a fox, following her through the seasons from capture as a young animal to her escape and final demise.

It embraces themes of nature, the cycles of life and the seasons, and human and animal worlds meeting.

The cast comprises current St Andrews’ students, including soprano Catherine Hooper in the title role, as well as 11-year-old Ben Clark, from St Andrews, and 10-year-old Oliver Marshall, from Dunbar.

The cast includes students of French, Italian, Classics and English.

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The Cunning Little Vixen is directed by PJ Harris, who is a performing arts fellow at Scottish Opera who has recently worked for the Royal Opera House, Opera North, Glyndebourne and Royal Swedish Opera, with sets and lighting designed by Victor Labarthe d’Arnoux.

In Harris’ production, the set gradually transforms from an office to a forest, an observation of the increasingly bureaucratic role of the forester in the 21st century, which is echoed in costume designer Antonin Boyot-Gelliber’s extraordinary origami costumes.

Harris said: “The Cunning Little Vixen explores our relationship with nature and I can’t think of a more inspiring place to work on this piece than St Andrews.

“It is incredibly exciting to work with the talented young performers of the University of St Andrews, who are able to use their academic intellect to create such meaningful characters.

“This is going to be a really special show.”

The Cunning Little Vixen is performed on Saturday, June 24, at 7.30pm and Sunday, June 25, at 4pm. Tickets are £20, £18 concs, and accompanied under 16s go free. They are available from