Scottish conductor Alistair Digges enjoyed a busy and varied career as an operatic tenor and concert soloist before turning his attention to conducting.
Born in Glasgow, Alistair’s first solo singing experiences were as a boy treble, performing in a BBC radio Christmas broadcast and singing the roles of Fuss in the RSNO’s children’s opera ‘Cake Talk’ (Eddie McGuire) and Acolyte in The Burning Fiery Furnace (Britten) at the Perth Festival (John Currie). He began his musical studies as a pianist and horn player, winning a scholarship to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Junior department. He played with many of the country’s leading youth orchestras including several years with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and performed Mozart’s 3rd Horn Concerto with Glasgow Schools Symphony Orchestra.
He began his vocal studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Stevenson Scholarship), also singing as a principle choral scholar at Glasgow Cathedral. He then moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music International Opera School (Mason/Ackroyd scholarships) going on to win their prestigious Knights of the Round Table Prize.
He has played the roles of Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore (Opera South), Rodolfo in La Boheme (Vignette Productions, Silent Opera, Opera Bohemia), Alfredo in La Traviata (Go Opera), Tamino in Die Zauberflote (Dartington Festival Opera), Don Gomez in Die Drei Pintos (UC Opera at the Bloomsbury), Dumain in Verlorene Liebesmüh (Opera Da Camera Linz, Austria), the tile role in The Tales of Hoffmann, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and Beppe in Pagliacci (Fife Opera), Belfiore in La Finta Giardiniera, Arnalta in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Sellem in The Rake’s Progress, La Théière in L’enfant et les sortilèges, Schoolmaster/Mosquito in The Cunning Little Vixen, and Flute in A Midsummer Nights Dream (Royal College of Music), Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly (Opera Bohemia), and Old man in Gareth Williams ‘The Sloans Project’ (NOISE Opera).
Alistair performed Britten’s Parables with Mahogany Opera at the Aldeburgh and Buxton Festivals, in Saint Petersburg and in London with Britten Sinfonia. Other engagements have included the title role in Sir Nigel of Tilford under the baton of Laurence Cummings, a series of operatic recitals across India with soprano Patricia Rozario CBE, and an opera gala with Ann Murray DBE. In 2012 he was the principle tenor for the launch of Opera di Peroni across the UK. Recent projects have included the role of John in Michael Oliva’s ‘Singularity’ in a concert performance for the RCM’s From the Soundhouse series, Gareth Wiliams’s Breath Cycle for Scottish Opera and workshopping new repertoire with Mahogany Opera Group.
Alistair has performed extensively as an oratorio and concert soloist throughout the UK and beyond singing in many of the country’s leading concert halls and cathedrals and working under the likes of Philip Moore, Stephen Cleobury, Jonathan Willcocks, James Grossmith, Ralph Allwood, Alain Charron, Chris Gray and Dominic Peckham. His vast repertoire includes Britten’s Saint Nicolas, Verdi’s Requiem, Mendelsohn’s Elijah, Puccini’s Messe di Gloria, Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Pettite Messe Solenelle, as well as the masses and oratorios of Handel, Bach, Haydn and Schubert.
An ambassador of Scottish Songs, Alistair has performed at many distinguished burns suppers in Scotland as well as at the Caledonian Club in London. He has also been the guest soloist for The Scottish Cancer Research Christmas Concert and the CLIC Sargent Christmas Concert at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. He is also a member of the male vocal group, Scozzesi.
In 2010 Alistair and baritone Douglas Nairne formed Opera Bohemia. The company aims to bring more opera to Scotland, more opportunities to young professional singers and bring opera to a new audience, in a fresh and dynamic way. The company has enjoyed great success at over twenty venues across Scotland, and is currently producing its seventh production. Alistair conducted their most recent productions of Eugene Onegin and Gianni Schicchi. He is also Musical director of Fife Opera with whom he conducted Carmen and Faust and this year returns for their new production of Eugene Onegin. In July 2016 he will conduct Gounod’s La Colombe at West Green House Opera in a collaboration with Opera Danube. Other conducting engagements have included the closing concert of the Rainhill Music Festival with RMF Sinfonia.
In London he was Musical Director of the Fairlawn Singers between 2011 and 2015. He is vocal consultant of the London Fourth Choir and he is on the vocal staff of both the Ulster Youth Choirs and the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. In Scotland, he is Musical Director of the Edinburgh Singers, most recently conducing performances at Saint Sulpice, La Madeleine and The American Cathedral in Paris as well as performances in the choir’s home town of Edinburgh. This season he conducts Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor alongside Haydn’s Trumpet concerto with trumpeter Mark O’Keefe. Most recently Alistair has been appointed Musical Director of the Kilmarnock and District Choral Union who celebrated John Rutter’s 70th birthday with a performance of his Magnificat and Mass of the Children. He remains in demand as an adjudicator, guest conductor and workshop leader most recently giving a workshop for the Voice Festival UK.