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background photo by Davie Gardner


Music by Chris Stout and Gareth Williams
Libretto by Siân Evans

Directed by James Robert Carson

HIRDA is a new opera inspired by the songs, stories, history and heritage of the Shetland Isles.


A collaboration between Shetland fiddler and composer, Chris Stout, classical composer Gareth Williams, and librettist Sian Evans, Hirda tells the story of Alastair, a once successful actor who returns to his island home for the wedding of his brother. Everyone’s world is turned upside down when Alastair and his sister-in-law find that they have a strong attraction to each other.


The contemporary setting is interwoven with another story about a 19th century woman and her sailor fiancé, told through letters they wrote to each other. The opera is performed using Shetland words and dialect (‘Hirda’ is a Shetlandic word meaning, ‘chaos’, ‘confusion’ or ‘extreme untidiness’).

The production was premièred in the Mareel Arts Centre in Lerwick, Shetland on 26 November 2015.

Hirda is a part of NOISE’s ongoing objective to create opera for particular communities throughout Scotland, inspired by specific places, their history and stories of the people connected with them. This is NOISE’s second full opera, following the success of the Sloans Project.

The opera was sponsored by Stephen White and the Kidbrooke Group whose generous donation was match funded by Arts and Business Scotland.

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