Opera Scotland

Zauberflöte 1983Hamburg State Opera

Read more about the opera Magic Flute

The operatic highlight of the 1983 Edinburgh Festival was undoubtedly the first visit by Opera Theatre of St Louis, with a new American work, The Postman Always Rings Twice (Paulus) and a rare British one, Fennimore and Gerda (Delius). There was also the fourth by the Hamburg company, their first since 1968. The Magic Flute production, at the vast Playhouse, was very different from its predecessors, and very entertaining. However a far more important event occurred at the more intimate King's Theatre, with the British premiere of two operas by Zemlinsky, both derived from Oscar Wilde, and presented as a double-bill. While the first piece, a three-hander called A Florentine Tragedy, worked well, it was overshadowed by the second piece. Zemlinsky's title, Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) was replaced by a restoration of Wilde's original, Der Geburtstag der Infantin (The Birthday of the Infanta). This proved to be a superb piece, well worthy of revival. Scottish Opera's staging of Britten's Death in Venice perhaps enjoyed a lower profile, but, derived from the novella by Thomas Mann, fitted in well to the Festival's Viennese theme. The Usher Hall also contained two semi-operatic concerts, with Claudio Abbado on unfamiliar Wagnerian territory (Act 2 of Lohengrin), and Alexander Gibson and the local team tackling Schoenberg's huge Gurrelieder for the first time. Another Schoenberg rarity, the monodrama Erwartung, was also conducted by Abbado.

This Magic Flute was musically excellent, and deservedly drew large crowds to the vast spaces of the Playhouse. The cast was full of established international names - perhaps the Papageno and Queen just on the verge of a breakthrough. The unknown quantity was the director and designer Achim Freyer. Since 1983 he has become a familiar name around the world, and his vision of the Flute has been seen in a number of houses (and his Ring has caused great interest in Los Angeles). There were elements of a children's playground in this presentation, and it certainly lost some of the more serious elements. But it was enjoyable anyway, and musically it could hardly have been improved on - Helen Donath and Kurt Moll particularly strong. The Three Boys were excellent members of the Tölzer Knabenchor - whether they were the same three boys every night or a squad of nine was not divulged.

Performance Cast

Tamino a Prince

Rüdiger Wohlers

First Lady in attendance on the Queen

Heide Christians

Second Lady in attendance on the Queen

Hildegard Hartwig

Third Lady in attendance on the Queen

Elisabeth Steiner

Papageno a bird-catcher

Mikael Melbye

Queen of Night

Carla Del Ré

Monostatos a servant in the Temple

Norbert Orth

Pamina daughter of the Queen of Night

Helen Donath

Speaker at the Temple

Franz Ferdinand Nentwig

Sarastro High Priest of Isis and Osiris

Kurt Moll (Aug 23, 27)

Harald Stamm (Aug 25)

First Priest

Frieder Stricker

Papagena disguised as an old woman

Marianne Hirsti

First Armed Man

Werner Götz

Second Armed Man

Carl Schultz

Performance DatesZauberflöte 1983

Map List

Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

23 Aug, 19.30 25 Aug, 19.30 27 Aug, 19.30

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