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Opera marks Chemistry tercentenary

An opera commissioned to mark 300 years of Chemistry at Edinburgh is to be performed to a city audience.

The piece, entitled Breathe Freely, was composed by Julian Wagstaff and is set during the Second World War.

It tells the story of Polish chemist and independence fighter Stanislaw Hempel, who came to Edinburgh in 1943.

On-stage chemistry

It has been a real privilege to work on this project. I have met some fascinating people, and greatly enjoyed getting to grips with the science, and of course the history of this fascinating department.

Julian WagstaffComposer

Hempel was to undertake scientific work in support of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, in which he held the rank of lieutenant.

The socialist activist was given a laboratory by Professor James Kendall, Head of Chemistry at Edinburgh at the time.

Professor Kendall also features in the opera, along with Dr Chrissie Miller, the first female chemist to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

City performance

The opera, for three voices and three musicians, is sung in English and will be performed at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh at 8pm on Thursday 24 October.

Its performance will be preceded by another work by the composer, the piano trio 'A Persistent Illusion'.

Derek Clark will conduct the opera, which features Laura Margaret Smith, Nigel Robson, Phil Gault, Pete Furniss, Su-a Lee, and Andrew Johnston.

The production is supported by Scottish Opera.

Breathe Freely

Tickets are £12, or £6 concessions.

Thursday 24 October 2013, 8.00pm

Thursday 24 October 2013, 8.45pm

Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street, EH2 2LR

Book tickets via the Queen's Hall website

I am looking forward to the first performance of Breathe Freely. It has been a great experience for students and staff within the School of Chemistry to interact with Julian on this project. It will be a unique legacy of our Tercentenary.

Professor Eleanor CampbellHead of School of Chemistry