Soaring voices join the jets at city’s airport

It was a case of access all arias for Edinburgh Grand Opera this week as they hired an aircraft hangar at Edinburgh Airport to prepare for their new show at the Lyceum this week.

Mezzosoprano Fiona MacDonald had to contend with the roar of jet engines and the sirens of the airport fire brigade to get through her rehearsal of Carmen.

The company had to use the aircraft hangar and nearby Spitfire House due to tight finances and the need to build a huge set for the theatre’s stage.

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Last night the cast of 50 took to the stage in Edinburgh for the first of a four-night run.

Company chairman and chorus member Geoff Ackers said the airport was an almost ideal option for rehearsing.

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He said: “We hired Spitfire House to build the set and that’s been happening for the past two months then we shifted over to the hangar to erect the set as we got nearby to the opening night.

“The original idea was to take the whole set and the whole cast to the hangar but the acoustics were pretty terrible so we scaled it back.”

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The performance of Carmen requires a major set change in just a few minutes and so the show’s technical staff prepared it away from the Lyceum. Mr Ackers said: “We had to ensure we could do all the set changes with just one interval because if we had two the audience get restless and we’d be paying a lot for a longer concert.

“The airport was quite an experience and we’re very grateful. ”

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Edinburgh Grand Opera began performing concerts in 1956 and within a few years was presenting fully staged operas. The company attracts highly regarded professionals to perform the principal roles, along with a mixture of professional, semi-professional and non-professional singers.

Gordon Robertson, head of communications at Edinburgh Airport, said: “Our hangars have been used for many purposes over the years but this is the first time that rehearsing for an opera has been done at the airport. We wish them success.”