Opera Scotland

Tosca 2012Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Tosca

Scottish Opera's 2011-12 season was its fiftieth, with celebrations in order, though the tone was muted. There was a sense of relief that the company had survived recent turmoils, and the level of activity was much reduced. The full-scale productions began in the autumn with a revival of Thomas Allen's Barber of Seville staging. In the New Year there were new productions of Hansel and Gretel and The Rake's Progress, along with a welcome revival of the vintage Tosca production. In the absence of any invitation to play the main festival in 2011, the first item in the season was a staging on the Edinburgh Fringe of Weill's Seven Deadly Sins. This was followed by a third co-operation with Music Theatre Wales at the Traverse - the highly dramatic Greek. The autumn repertoire also had a medium scale tour of Orpheus in the Underworld. In January the Russian co-productions with the Conservatoire continued, with Prokofiev's Betrothal in a Monastery. There was also the expected Highlands and Islands concert party under the Opera Highlights label. In June, the company's 50th anniversary was celebrated with a single concert performance, well-cast, of those old stalwarts from days of yore, Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci.

Words like 'classic' tend to be bandied about indiscriminately when a particular staging of an opera is remembered with fondness by its audiences. That is usually because a rash management has trashed an excellent production, only to replace it with one which was - well, trash. Opera companies always say that audiences underestimate the cost of reviving an old production - the sets may be worn out, moths may have got at the costumes, or the new cast of singers, all different in stature, may require completely new costumes to be made, so why repeat an old design when you can have a new concept for little more money?

This revival was an interesting test. The staging was created in 1980 by Anthony Besch and conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson. They both continued to work on it repeatedly over the years, but both had been dead for a decade or more. The last revival in 2004 was generally expected to be the end of the road, but the company simply cannot afford to throw away a staging as good as this one. So welcome back! With a young stage director willing to subject himself to the apparent straitjacket of his predecessor's concept, the production was in safe hands. There seems no reason why it should not come back many more times - after all, Welsh National still use their sepia-tinted Joachim Herz Butterfly, and Covent Garden a wonderfully detailed John Copley Bohème, both of which are even older, and show no sign of fading away.

No-one remained from the original 1980 cast, but David Morrison, a long-serving member of the chorus, began to assume the role of Sciarrone (following Norman White's retirement) in 1990. Having sung that distinctly nasty role ever since, he now switched with ease to the sometimes comic character part of the Sacristan. Declan McCusker, by now surely a fixture as Spoletta, following Francis Egerton and John Robertson in this role, also made an impression. Of the leads, José Ferrero was making his British debut, and Susannah Glanville, a favourite with Opera North audiences, travelled to work in Scotland for the first time. Robert Poulton sang frequently with Scottish Opera early in his career, two decades aarlier, but now showed he was clearly ready for some of the big Verdi or Puccini roles up here that helped generate a major career elsewhere. How tragic that such a career should be ended by a road accident just a few months later. 

Performance DatesTosca 2012

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

4 May, 19.15 6 May, 16.00 8 May, 19.15 10 May, 19.15 12 May, 19.15

Eden Court Theatre | Inverness

17 May, 19.15 19 May, 19.15

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

23 May, 19.15 25 May, 19.15 27 May, 16.00 31 May, 19.15 2 Jun, 19.15

Her Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

7 Jun, 19.30 9 Jun, 19.30

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