Words With Caroline

Caroline Campbell works for Scottish Opera as Touring Manager for small scale productions. Since these tours take place in the spring and autumn, January is a good time to catch her for an hour on a rare day off…

What’s your connection to the Lothians?

I’ve lived in Scotland since I was nine. At that time we moved to Ayrshire, but my Scottish heritage goes back much further.  My dad is Scottish, and back in the 1920’s my granny and grandad were married at the North British Hotel on Princes Street. Now I live with my husband in Edinburgh so we’ve come full circle.

Have you a favourite place to visit locally?

The best thing about Edinburgh is the sea. I’m lucky enough to live close to the waterfront in Granton so not only is the sea on my doorstep, there are spectacular views too. From here I can almost touch the sea in all its guises – and it’s always different – and even on a grey, cloudy winter’s day, it never fails to be inspiring.

Does this make you a ‘gloomy-fog-over-the-castle’ or a ‘summer-on-Princes Street-gardens’ type?

It doesn’t matter – it’s all about the sea!

People will have heard of Scottish Opera, but not necessarily all the ‘behind the scenes’ roles involved. Could you tell us a bit about your work?

Scottish Opera goes on tour twice a year with small scale productions. It’s our chance to bring opera to rural Scotland and generally productions are in church halls and small venues in rural communities. In the spring, the touring cast comprises four singers and a pianist who perform highlights from different operas, and in the autumn it’s a fully staged performance on a proper set, again with piano accompaniment. My job as Touring Manager is to oversee both of these events.

When you say ‘oversee’…?

The tours are my responsibility from beginning to end. From my office I book the tour, which includes arranging dates, venues, accommodation and transport for everyone. Last autumn our production was Cosi Fan Tutti and when you consider this involved 17 travellers, 19 performances in different places in seven weeks, and transporting four vehicles and a piano, as well as ensuring nobody was on the road for more than two weeks at a time, you can see what an undertaking it is!

I travel alongside the touring company to deal with the day to day organisation and inevitable hiccups that arise from being constantly on the move. So that ranges from setting up the front of house and the ‘Green Room’ (where the performers relax before going on) to making sure everyone is fit and happy – and that includes the welfare of the piano!

There’s nothing more rewarding than the reaction of an enthusiastic and appreciative audience that doesn’t have this type of entertainment on its doorstep. I love all aspects of the work and I’m lucky in that it brings together all my professional passions as well as my training and experience to date.

Would you talk a bit more about that?

I’ve always wanted to work in theatre and originally gained a BA in Dramatic Studies in Glasgow. I soon realised I didn’t want to act but I loved all the technical support: the set, the lights, the sound and so on.

I’ve been with Scottish Opera for two and a half years now. Previously, I was in London with English National Opera where I was privileged to work front of house at the Coliseum.  Closer to home, I spent nine years as manager at the Kings/Festival theatres and I was also theatre manager at the Lyceum. I’m proud to say I was also the first ever female crew person at the old Traverse, back in the late 80’s.

The obvious question… have you a favourite opera?

That’s so difficult as different productions appeal at different times, and everything I work on takes first place whilst I’m emerged in it. I’d have to say, though, our production of Handel’s Rodelinda, with harpsichord, violin and cello, was very special. It was my first production as touring manager with Scottish Opera – and right then I knew I had found the perfect job.

And when you’re not working?

I walk by the sea. And when I’m not doing that I love watching horse-racing, and my husband and I play darts – which is equally a great interest to have on tour; you’re guaranteed an even warmer welcome in the pubs and clubs of Scotland!

You can learn more about Scottish Opera and their forthcoming tours and productions at www.scottishopera.org.uk and follow it on Twitter @ScottishOpera



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *