For its large-scale staging of 1969, Scottish Opera interrupted the assembly of its Ring production in order to celebrate the centenary of the death of Berlioz. The opera had been given its British premiere, divided over two evenings, by Glasgow Grand at the Theatre Royal in 1935, and the staging of The Trojans in one evening was an ambitious project requiring a large cast of soloists. It also needed an integral ballet company, and the recent move to Glasgow and renaming of Western Theatre Ballet made that far easier.
Of course the prime justification was the availability of Janet Baker to follow up her success in the comic role of Dorabella in 1967 (revived in this season) with the dramatically powerful tragic role of Dido. Ronald Dowd produced a vivid account of Aeneas, and the company had assembled a group of excellent performers in the other roles. Bernadette Greevy was an excellent Irish contralto who unaccountably appeared very rarely in opera in Britain. Her only other appearance with Scottish Opera was the revival in 1972.
The performance of the orchestra under Alexander Gibson was very highly regarded. The visual side of the production was far less effective. The sets were solid but provided little atmosphere, and not much change between Troy and Carthage. The original wooden horse, eighteen feet tall, was so heavy that when it first appeared at a rehearsal it broke through the floor of the King's stage. The costumes were also unhelpful, and would not have looked out of place in a Hollywooden epic of Mr De Mille's. The design team was much better suited to the Fidelio which they did the following year.
Duncan Robertson (Exc May 10)
John Robertson (May 10)
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