Opera Scotland

Frederick Lablache c1850

Frederick Lablache in Edinburgh

Posted 23 Jul 2015

On 8 May 1838, a troupe of opera singers began a series of performances at Edinburgh's first Theatre Royal - the building then occupying the site where the offices of Creative Scotland now stand.

The singers had been brought north by Mr Mitchell, manager of the Italian Opera Buffa of London, by arrangement with Mr Murray of the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh. Eight staged performances were promised, and the theatre's band 'has been considerably augmented for these Representations'.

First a double bill was performed - Rossini's Italiana in Algieri and Donizetti's Betly. There followed Luigi Ricci's Un' Avventura Di Scaramuccisa and on the third night Donizetti's L'elisir d'Amore, all of which were newly written and fresh to Scottish audiences. There followed repeat performances of L'Elisir, Scaramuccisa, then a performance of the well-known Marriage of Figaro. The season ended with a double bill of L'Elisir d'Amore followed by Betly.

The party included Frederick Lablache (pictured), the English singer and son of the great Naples-born bass Luigi Lablache (1794-1858). Other artistes were Signor Catoni, Signor Negri, Signor Bellini, Mlle Scheroni, Mdlle Vermani and Miss Fanny Wyndham, whose maiden name was Wilton and who had been born in Scotland. She married Frederick Lablache, then retired from the stage. 

Reports at the time talked of crowded houses, but despite this apparent success a few years were to elapse before opera in Italian returned to the Edinburgh stage.

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