Opera Scotland

Maria Stuarda 1969Teatro Comunale, Florence

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This three week visit to the 1969 Festival by the opera company from Florence brought a repertoire of largely unfamiliar work, with the popular Verdi and Puccini presented with good casts that justified their inclusion. Two full-length operas were brought, Donizetti's Maria Stuarda as well as Rigoletto. There were two double bills. Gianni Schicchi was paired with a rare Rossini piece, Il signor Bruschino. There were also two little known twentieth century operas, with composers still alive. These were by Malipiero (Sette Canzoni) and Dallapiccola (Il prigioniero).

Scottish Opera's contribution was on the Fringe - a late night double bill at the Gateway. This consisted of Robin Orr's Full Circle and the premiere of a comedy by John Purser, The Undertaker. The Music Theatre Ensemble provided  late night showings including Monteverdi (Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda) and Stravinsky (Renard). The Usher Hall programme included Giulini conducting the Verdi Messa da Requiem.

This was a landmark Scottish premiere of what has now become one of Donizetti’s most popular dramas. After a difficult creation it had failed to catch on in Donizetti's  lifetime, and was rediscovered more than a century after his death. The British premiere was a small-scale production at the 1966 Camden Festival, so this was the first major staging in Britain.

It was an immediate sellout at the box office, hardly surprising given the local interest in the subject matter, and for the most part it worked well. The designs were excellent and had been tactfully adapted for the restricted space of the King's stage - the production was mounted at La Scala as well as Florence. The most important sequences - the great confrontation that ends the second act, and the succession of meditative arias for Mary as she approaches the scaffold, found Leyla Gencer at her best. However the performances were dominated by Shirley Verrett in lustrous voice. She really enjoyed something of a triumph, which was further cemented at the end of the Festival when she was an outstanding contributor to a pair of Verdi Requiem performances conducted by Giulini.

Performance Cast

Elisabetta Elizabeth, Queen of England

Shirley Verrett

Giorgio Talbot George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury

Agostino Ferrin

Lord Guglielmo Cecil Sir William Cecil

Giulio Fioravanti

Roberto di Leicester Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

Franco Tagliavini

Anna Hannah Kennedy, Mary's companion

Anna di Stasio

Maria Stuarda Mary Stuart

Leyla Gencer

Performance DatesMaria Stuarda 1969

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

25 Aug, 18.00 28 Aug, 18.00 1 Sep, 18.00 8 Sep, 18.00

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