Opera Scotland

Valkyrie (Act I) 1981Scottish National Orchestra

Read more about the opera Walküre

In those far off days the Scottish National Orchestra's winter season consisted of an Edinburgh concert every Friday, repeated in Glasgow on Saturday.  In the second week of the month, eight times every winter, October to May, the orchestra would travel north, playing in Aberdeen on Tuesday and Dundee on Wednesday.  These schedules were as writ in tablets of stone, with audience members able to enter the dates into new diaries long before the actual programmes were announced.  Nowadays the total number of concerts has been reduced even in the central belt, and provincial touring has been cut back heavily.  This affects Dundee in particular, since it does not receive visits from the BBC SSO or SCO, which do go to Aberdeen.

There was a particular irony here, in that for the 1980/81 winter season, Dundee's Caird Hall, with its large capacity and renowned acoustic, perfect for Wagner, was closed for renovation, and the concerts took place in the much smaller Perth venue to which subscribers were transported by bus.

Gibson and the SNO had not played music from the Ring since the last performances of Scottish Opera's Walküre production in 1972, but the availability of Jessye Norman, who always enjoyed working with Gibson, provided the ideal opportunity to revisit the work.  A scheduled return in 1983 was cancelled due to illness, so this was the only occasion when Jessye Norman, a regular visitor to the Edinburgh Festival,  sang in Scotland outside the central belt.   The Greenock-born soprano Linda Esther Gray was already a noted Wagnerian, but was embarking on Sieglinde for the first time.  Edward Sooter had sung Siegmund in the famous Seattle Ring production, and was making his British debut,  And Fritz Hübner was an experienced bass who had performed Wagner at Bayreuth.

In June, after the winter season had ended, the SNO used to mount a series of popular Promenade Concerts, with Glasgow and Edinburgh events timed to coincide with the end of university exams.  For this series, in the vast space of the Kelvin Hall, a further performance of the first act of Die Walküre was given.  Linda Esther Gray returned as Sieglinde.  The Siegmund was a longstanding member of ENO, Kenneth Woollam.   Indeed he had sung the complete role, in English, at the Glasgow Theatre Royal during that company's cycle in 1976.   Roderick Kennedy had just been spending some months with Scottish Opera and was able to try out a Wagner part.

To complete this evening of Wagner,  in the spring the programme began with the overture to Rienzi, followed by the Siegfried Idyll.  For the June Promenade Concert the first half was still Wagnerian, but consisted of the rousing Act 3 Prelude to Lohengrin, Siegfried's Rhine Journey from Götterdämmerung and the Overture to Tannhäuser.

Performance Cast

Siegmund a Volsung

Edward Sooter (Mar 3, 4, 6, 7)

Kenneth Woollam (Jun 17)

Sieglinde a Volsung, sister of Siegmund

Jessye Norman (Mar 3, 6, 7)

Linda Esther Gray (Mar 4; Jun 17)

Hunding husband of Sieglinde

Fritz Hübner (Mar 3, 4, 6, 7)

Roderick Kennedy (Jun 17)

Performance DatesValkyrie (Act I) 1981

Map List

Music Hall, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

3 Mar, 19.30

City Hall, Perth | Perth

4 Mar, 19.30

Usher Hall | Edinburgh

6 Mar, 19.30

City Halls, Glasgow | Glasgow

7 Mar, 19.30

Kelvin Hall | Glasgow

17 Jun, 19.30

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