Creative Hub for Young Musicians and Singers

who are we?

We are OperaLab - a partnership between the Laidlaw Music Centre, University of St Andrews and The Wallace Collection, the University's ensemble in residence. 

what are we doing?

Our aim is to develop new, dramatic musical work and provide opportunities for young musicians and singers to participate in the origination and performance of new material, and we're asking for your donations to enable us to develop this exciting programme.

Our first project – the one-act opera ‘Opsnizing Dad’ by John Wallace – is a form of direct music drama dealing with a big issue in an intimate and immersive context. 

The concept comes from the book ‘Opsnizing Dad by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace – a work of flash fiction that won the 2017 Kaleidoscope Health and Care Award. The story deals with dementia and related aspects of social care for the elderly and, although it is set in 2100 it is entirely relevant for today.  

John Wallace – recently announced as recipient of the Queen’s Medal for Music – writes:

‘I have tried to heighten the tragedy of dementia through the unbearable optimism of the son in trying to keep life going through it all - his eruptions into banal obscenities through his frustrations with his father leading to anger and complete loss of personal control. During the action, past, present and future blur together in one rapid continuum, but through it all, the love of a son for his father shines through.’

Opsnizing Dad will feature:

  • Jamie McDougall, renowned tenor and Associate Teacher of Singing in the main role
  • 10 students in the mirroring chorus
  • The band consisting of of two students, two instrumental tutors and four members of resident brass ensemble The Wallace Collection
  • Bede Williams, Head of Instrumental Studies will conduct
  • Claire Innes-Hopkins, Director of Chapel Choirs will be repetiteur and chorus master.

The opera will be developed for streamed concert performance, with a small audience present. It will be preceded by a short pre-concert talk with the author and composer and will last approximately 35 minutes. 

why are we doing it?

  • to provide a channel for pent up musical energy and creativity caused by the pandemic
  • to familiarise students first-hand with the processes of creating new work ab initio
  • to support our live-streamed concerts
  • to nurture musical talent of our students at St Andrews
  • to provide our students amazing opportunities to perform with, and be mentored by, renowned professionals
  • we hope that you will enjoy the performance, but please note this will contain very strong language and sexual references and therefore is unsuitable for anyone aged under 18.

help us succeed!

You can help us succeed by:

  • donating to OperaLab: ‘Opsnizing Dad’ (University of St Andrews)
  • registering as a follower so we can keep you informed of progress
  • sharing the project to encourage others to support
  • please share this project on social media with anyone and everyone and help spread the word by signing up as a Helper or Follower
  • Thank you for your donation and support!

Find us here

Music from St Andrews (performances on YouTube)

Music from The Wallace Collection


The Laidlaw Music Centre (University of St Andrews)

The Wallace Collection Ensemble


(Donations will be safeguarded for the purpose of the Laidlaw Music Centre, University of St Andrews)

Photo credits above: vocal scholar and the brass quintet by George Cherry

Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

Jamie MacDougall

John Wallace and Bede Williams