Opera Scotland

Don Carlos 1988Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Don Carlos

Scottish Opera's piano-accompanied small-scale touring division had become increasingly ambitious, with three successive productions which had broken the previous mould. Following the success of Tosca (1985), Jenůfa (1986) and Macbeth (1987), it was to be expected that Opera-Go-Round would try to continue with something equally ambitious. That the choice should fall on Don Carlos seemed to many at the time to be a step too far, absolutely bonkers, threatening disaster. The degree of compression and editing required was inevitably far greater than usual - for instance, much of the auto-da-fè, one of the grandest scenes in all Verdi, was reduced to a piano solo with accompanying slide show. Indeed, the feat of Mark Dorrell in supplying the accompaniment all through a long evening was quite astonishing.

The whole show was paced beautifully, from the start of Act 1 (for this was a version of the five-act text) right through to the end. The singers also provided a great deal of pleasure, and all the usual highlights came off beautifully, especially the fourth act, from Philip's monologue, the argument with the inquisitor, the great quartet, Eboli's aria, and the prison scene, with Posa's death. The last act with Elisabeth's aria and the final duet also worked well, with no sign of fatigue, and some beautifully soft and subtle singing from Anne Williams-King and Colin McKerracher.

With only six soloists, there was some doubling of roles - a mezzo sang a few lines for Thibault before switching to her main role of Eboli, and the Monk, rather oddly, sang from behind a screen when called on to portray the vital role of the Grand Inquisitor. The seriousness with which the whole enterprise was treated was evinced by the fact that those dual roles were taken by David Gwynne, who had sung the Inquisitor regularly in the full-scale WNO production a few years earlier. This was the start of a long relationship between this excellent bass and the Scottish company.

But the reservations must remain - it was a long way short of giving people in the Highlands and Islands a proper idea of what Verdi's largest opera is all about. This was almost certainly the work's Scottish premiere.

Thirty-one performances are listed.  On 17 October, there was a further one at Invercauld Festival Theatre, Braemar, a venue we have been unable to trace.

Performance DatesDon Carlos 1988

Map List

Tron Theatre | Glasgow

27 Aug, 20.00

Campbeltown Grammar School | Campbeltown

30 Aug, 19.30

Village Hall, Bowmore | Isle of Islay

3 Sep, 20.00

Shielbridge Hall | Acharacle

6 Sep, 19.30

Village Hall, Ballachulish | Ballachulish, Argyll

8 Sep, 19.30

Argyllshire Gathering Halls, Oban | Oban, Argyll

10 Sep, 20.00

Community Centre, Brora | Brora

13 Sep, 19.30

Kingussie High School | Kingussie

15 Sep, 19.30

Festival Theatre, Pitlochry | Pitlochry

18 Sep, 20.00

Thurso High School | Thurso, Caithness

20 Sep, 20.00

Arts Theatre, Orkney | Kirkwall, Orkney

22 Sep, 20.00

Village Hall, Lochinver | Lochinver

24 Sep, 19.30

Village Hall, Broadford | Broadford, Isle of Skye

27 Sep, 19.30

Village Hall, Lochcarron | Lochcarron, Ross-shire

29 Sep, 19.30

Village Hall, Ullapool | Ullapool

1 Oct, 19.30

Victoria Hall, Cromarty | Cromarty

4 Oct, 19.30

Lochgelly Centre | Lochgelly

6 Oct, 19.45

MacRobert Arts Centre | Stirling

11 Oct, 19.30

Motherwell Theatre | Motherwell

13 Oct, 19.30

Deeside Theatre | Aboyne, Aberdeenshire

17 Oct, 19.30

Aberdeen Arts Centre | Aberdeen

19 Oct, 19.30

Town Hall, Portobello | Edinburgh

21 Oct, 19.30

Volunteer Hall, Galashiels | Galashiels

24 Oct, 19.30

Village Hall, Poolewe | Poolewe

26 Oct, 19.30

Theatre Royal, Dumfries | Dumfries

28 Oct, 19.30

Arts Centre, Aberystwyth | Aberystwyth

1 Nov, 19.30

Theatr Hafren, Newtown | Newtown

3 Nov, 19.30

Guildhall, Brecon | Brecon

5 Nov, 19.30

Theatr Ardudwy, Harlech | Harlech

8 Nov, 19.30

Wyeside Arts Centre | Builth Wells

10 Nov, 19.30

Newcastle Playhouse | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

12 Nov, 19.30

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