I was surprised to find myself in Scotland. Admittedly, the fact that the plane was quite clearly destined for Glasgow International Airport should have prepared me. And in my own company I pride myself on skilfully visualising where I’ll be tomorrow, the day after, next week – vital skills in coping with an itinerant lifestyle. But as a result of a crowded schedule, and perhaps from diverting mental power to learning a fiendishly difficult score, Glasgow had crept up on me.
“The thing about this place is that it never changes – so when you come back, if it feels different, the only thing that can have changed in the meantime is you.”
My colleague was talking about Montepulciano in Tuscany – truly a town which hasn’t changed for centuries – but the principle remains broadly true for most places stable enough to sustain a professional opera company. The last time I landed in Glasgow Airport at the start of a production period, I was single, and only a few days before had vowed that, whatever the future held, dating another singer was not part of it. The next morning I met my future wife – a singer – for the first time.
A huge proportion of my last decade has been spent here – to the extent, in fact, that I have always thought of Scottish Opera as my “home” company, despite having not a single drop of Caledonian blood in my veins. (Believe me, I researched this thoroughly, desperately keen to have an excuse to wear a kilt as daywear.) They, more than any other company, have taken risks on me at key points in my career – have had the faith to give me the sink-or-swim break that every artist needs at some point. I have met and lost loves here, forged friendships, conceived (and occasionally fulfilled) artistic dreams, and had countless unforgettable days and nights out. The people I have met and known here have been friends – more than that, family – to me. Some have come and gone, others remain. I strive to remember the debt I owe them all.
All things considered, it is good to be back.