First dementia-friendly opera planned in UK

The first ever dementia-friendly opera performance in the UK is to be presented in Edinburgh by Scottish Opera in November.

Marriage of Figaro
An outdoor performance of The Marriage of Figaro. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro has been condensed into a 1 hour 45 minute performance. The opera’s lighting and sound will be adjusted to suit audience members with dementia. Attendees will also be able to leave the theatre at any time and watch the opera on screens in the foyer.

Music is known to play an important role in dementia care. Writing in the Guardian in 2013, Karen Hayes, who was involved in a project to produce an opera based on the experience of living with dementia, explained the impact on dementia patients of bringing a piano into a care home. “Each day our little rooms full of people grew until our sessions were spilling into corridors and colonising larger spaces. We watched the residents emerge over the week, often as if from a deep sleep, swimming to the surface, lighting up from within,” she wrote.

Scottish Opera has been working with dementia patients and their carers in Glasgow since 2010 as part of an outreach programme and are planning to expand it to Edinburgh this year. More information is available at their website.