Opera Scotland

Due Foscari 1993Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Due Foscari

The 1993 Festival saw an interesting concentration on Verdi operas, getting under way with Scottish Opera's first attempt at an early, pre-Macbeth, work in I due Foscari, which immediately joined the company's winter season line-up.  Their new musical director, Richard Armstrong, also returned at the end of the Festival with his former colleagues, Welsh National, and their superb production of the final masterpiece, Falstaff. Between these, the Festival gave a concert performance, very well cast, of the first surviving opera, Oberto.

A second theme at this Festival was an attempt to juxtapose the works of two masters, Schubert and Janáček. Opera was, inevitably, a difficult area in which to achieve this, but a fascinating concert evening was compiled in the Usher Hall, combining Schubert's unstageable (no surviving dialogue) Die Freunde von Salamanka with Janáček's first opera, Šárka.

During his years with Welsh National Opera, Richard Armstrong showed himself to be a natural Verdian. Not only did he conduct excellent accounts of most of the mature works, but he also dipped into the treasury of relatively little known early pieces, supplementing the familiar Nabucco and Macbeth with excellent stagings of Ernani and I masnadieri. With the exception of the excellent Pountney Macbeth, Scottish Opera had ignored this field, so it was no great surprise when one was scheduled for the 1993 Edinburgh Festival. While The Two Foscari may not have been the most obvious candidate for revival, it is undoubtedly tuneful and dramatically effective. It had a further advantage in being based on a drama by an indisputably great poet, who, if perhaps not a great dramatist, still had very strong connections with Scotland.

The production was launched as a collaboration with Covent Garden, the Royal Opera having decided on an ambitious - as it turned out over-ambitious - scheme to perform all the master's works in the years leading up to his centenary. In the event, this production fell a bit flat, and was never presented in London. The staging was uninteresting - all dull grey walls and dour reddish costumes, with minimal local colour. Opening night was not helped by the illness of the lead baritone, and the newly-introduced tenor had a powerful voice and little sense of style either as singer or actor. The good features were provided by the expected rousing and red-blooded elements of conductor, orchestra and chorus, as well as the promising young bass as a smoothly villainous Loredano, and especially, an excellent Bolshoi soprano as Lucrezia, just as good in Verdi as she had seemed earlier in the year in Puccini.

Performance Cast

Francesco Foscari Doge of Venice

Frederick Burchinal (Exc Aug 16)

Phillip Joll (Aug 16)

Jacopo Foscari Francesco's son

Mr Deng

Lucrezia Contarini Jacopo's wife

Katerina Kudriavchenko

Jacopo Loredano member of the Council of Ten

Nicolas Cavallier

Barbarigo a Senator

Richard Coxon

Pisana Lucrezia's confidant

Jill-Maria Marsden

Attendant on the Council of Ten

Robert Crowe

Servant of the Doge

David Morrison

Performance DatesDue Foscari 1993

Map List

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

16 Aug, 19.30 18 Aug, 19.30 9 Nov, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

18 Sep, 19.15 23 Sep, 19.15 25 Sep, 19.15 29 Oct, 19.15 6 Nov, 14.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

16 Nov, 19.15 24 Nov, 19.15 26 Nov, 19.15

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

3 Dec, 19.15

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