Opera Scotland

Boulevard Solitude 1977Stuttgart State Opera

Read more about the opera Boulevard Solitude

When Scottish Opera first re-opened the restored Theatre Royal in Glasgow it was always the intention to include visits by other companies from elsewhere in Britain and from abroad. A lack of money very quickly became the problem.  Solitary visits by Welsh National, Opera North, Glyndebourne Touring and English National (with one of the last performances of their famous Ring cycle staging) have scarcely fulfilled that first wish. This visit from Stuttgart, with a superb staging of a great rarity, is, as yet, the only guest appearance from abroad.

In recent seasons, Boulevard Solitude has shown signs almost of growing popularity in Britain. It has been staged by both the Royal Opera and Welsh National. However in 1977 it was appearing for the first time since its British premiere, by the New Opera Company in 1962 at Sadler's Wells.

By 1970 Alexander Gibson and the SNO had already established much of Henze's music in Scotland, but his operas were unknown until the Scottish Opera production of the witty and acerbic Elegy for Young Lovers was staged between 1970 and 1975. That excellent production showed Henze as a director for the first time, and was taken by Scottish Opera to Stuttgart on its 1975 tour. How appropriate, then, that a reciprocal visit should come about, with the composer again directing one of his earlier works. The Stuttgart ensemble now made its third visit to Scotland, following two seasons at the Edinburgh Festival.

This performance was superb, with the orchestra bringing out all the eclectic stylistic mixtures that Henze would use throughout his career, with the avant-garde liberally laced with jazz and cabaret influences. The singers were just as good, led by Sylvia Geszty, an excellent Hungarian coloratura. Rüdiger Wohlers was a highly-regarded Mozart stylist and talented actor, but his Armand showed him to be surprisingly versatile.

Back in 1952 the Massenet and Puccini operas derived from the Manon story were less popular than they are now, but the updating to post-war Paris seemed remarkably topical, with the combination of cynical violence and drug abuse not at all out of place.

Performance DatesBoulevard Solitude 1977

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Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

21 Mar, 19.15 22 Mar, 19.15

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