Opera Scotland

Trojans 1969Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Troyens

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 had 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. Critics thought the visual side of the production was 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 design of the costumes also seemed unhelpful, perhaps owing more to the traditions of Hollywood epics than anything else.

Inevitably, The Trojans dominated the season. The smaller-scale works seen included a revival of the 1967 Così fan tutte, with Janet Baker, Elizabeth Harwood and Peter van der Bilt returning. There were further performances of Albert Herring and the recent Gondoliers. Robin Orr's Full Circle, also new the previous year, re-appeared in a triple-bill with two ballets. This made sense, given the involvement of Scottish Theatre Ballet in the Berlioz. They were here allowed to show a potential audience their range. The first of the two pieces chosen was a new work, Breakaway, choreographed by Gillian Lynne to a commissioned score by Barry Booth. The finale wsa La Ventana, a one-act classic from 1856 by Bournonville, to music by Lumbye. In future years Scottish Ballet would produce plenty of new work, but would also make a speciality of Bournonville's delightful Danish inventions, including Napoli, Flower Festival at Genzano and La Sylphide.

Performance Cast

Cassandra a prophetess (Cassandre)

Ann Howard

Ascanius son of Aeneas (Ascagne)

Patricia Hay

Hecuba Queen of Troy, wife of Priam (Hécube)

Joan Clarkson

Polyxena daughter of Priam

Barbara Walker

Aeneas a Trojan commander, son of Venus and Anchises (Énée)

Ronald Dowd

Choroebus a young Asian, fiancé of Cassandra (Chorèbe)

John Shaw

Pantheus a Trojan priest and friend of Aeneas (Panthée)

William McCue

Ghost of Hector Priam's eldest son

Joseph Rouleau

Priam King of Troy

John Lawson Graham

Trojan Soldier

Ronald Morrison

Greek Captain

Brian Kemp

Helenus a Trojan priest, son of Priam

John Robertson

Andromache widow of Hector

Elaine McDonald

Astyanax son of Hector and Andromache

Alasdair McLean

Dido Queen of Carthage, widow of Sichaeus, Prince of Tyre (Didon)

Janet Baker

Anna Dido's sister

Bernadette Greevy

Narbal adviser to Dido

Joseph Rouleau

Iopas a Tyrien minstrel at Dido's court

Robert Thomas

Mercury Mercure

Brian Kemp

Hylas a young Phrygian sailor

Duncan Robertson (Exc May 10)

John Robertson (May 10)

First Soldier

Ronald Morrison

Second Soldier

John Lawson Graham

Ghost of Cassandra

Ann Howard

Ghost of Choroebus

John Shaw

Ghost of Priam

John Lawson Graham

Performance DatesTrojans 1969

Map List

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

3 May, 18.00 10 May, 18.00 14 May, 18.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

19 May, 18.00 24 May, 18.00 26 Jun, 18.00

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