Opera Scotland

Orfeo ed Euridice 1967Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Orpheus and Euridice

Gluck's Orpheus opera had not previously featured in the repertoire at Sadler's Wells, and this production did not stay long. However it is worth noting for several reasons. The most obvious of these is that the company tried out a great rarity, the revised version Gluck made for Paris, as Orphée et Eurydice, where the part of Orpheus is transposed down to be sung by a high tenor. The French fondness for ballet within operatic performances was already well-established, and the dance element is far more prominent here than in the simpler Viennese version.

The movement on this occasion was provided through choreography by Peter Darrell and the company of which he was director, Western Theatre Ballet. Two years later this company, changing its name to Scottish Theatre Ballet, would become a ready-made national dance company relocating to Glasgow, and is now known as Scottish Ballet. Darrell would himself return to the work a dozen years later, choreographing Peter Ebert's staging with Janet Baker at Scottish Opera. The cast list includes dancers who became familiar figures in Scotland for many years, most notably Elaine McDonald.

As for the singers, Alexander Young was known as an expert performer of Handel and Mozart, and the pure, flowing lines of Gluck suited him well. Patricia Kern is unusual casting as Euridice - the normal expectation would have been for her to sing Orpheus in the usual mezzo version. Margaret Curphey's range eventually included the heavy Verdi roles as well as Brünnhilde and Isolde, but this is a very early appearance - the voice had an attractive lyrical quality. As it happens, the Glasgow Herald of 26 October reveals that Patricia Kern did not sing on opening night, the role being taken very well, at short notice, by Josephine Barstow.

Cast details from the opening night review in the Glasgow Herald and a copy of the programme for 3 November in the Opera Scotland collection.

Performance DatesOrfeo ed Euridice 1967

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King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

25 Oct, 19.30 27 Oct, 19.30 3 Nov, 19.30

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