Opera Scotland

Royal Opera, Stockholm

The Swedish Royal Opera was founded by King Gustavus III in 1773, operating initially in a converted ball house in Stockholm before a purpose-built theatre was constructed in 1782. This building, in which Gustavus was assassinated in 1792, was demolished in 1890, to make way for the current Royal Opera House that opened in 1898. Its seating capacity is 1,264. There is a modern studio theatre attached to it, the Rotundan, opened in 1964.

The company also operates in the historically important theatre at the Drottningholm Castle - built in 1754, burnt down in 1762 and reconstructed in 1766. Locked up for many years, it was rediscovered in 1922 when some restoration work was carried out. The original stage machinery survives intact, along with some 30 original  stage sets. Since 1948, regular summer seasons have been given, performing baroque works in a historically-informed style, using replicas of those sets with appropriate costumes, wigs and lighting.

The company has paid two visits to the Edinburgh Festival, both times bringing an enterprising repertoire and several of their star performers. Birgit Nilsson, Elisabeth Söderström and Kerstin Meyer all came both times, giving unforgettable interpretations.

The first visit in 1959 brought an interesting staging of Verdi's Ballo, well worthwhile productions of Die Walküre and Wozzeck, and a fascinating novelty in Blomdahl's Aniara. The first two had not appeared in Scotland for years, and the last two were Scottish premieres. Perhaps only the Rigoletto was a slight disappointment in this context.

On its return in 1974, the King's saw an overwhelming staging of Jenůfa and a surprisingly subtle one of Elektra. By complete contrast, a production of Handel's neglected Il pastor fido was performed in eighteenth century style using recreations of the sets and costumes from the historic Court Theatre at Drottningholm. In addition to these, the rarely utilised Gateway Theatre hosted performances of a novel 'opera-in-the-round', Lars Johan Werle's Vision of Thérèse, from 1964, in its first UK performances.

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