Opera Scotland

Don Giovanni 1968Tayside Opera

Read more about the opera Don Giovanni

Amateur performances of opera in Dundee go back a long way, well into the nineteenth century, when there was no shortage of good theatres in which to perform. Through to the fifties, Dundee Operatic had tended to mount two shows in a week, one opera and one musical, using the old King's Theatre (operating as a Gaumont cinema for most of the year). The demise of that superbly appointed theatre in 1961 threw the amateur groups into difficulties, and for a while opera disappeared from the scene (the professional Sadler's Wells tours as well as the amateur groups).

In the mid-sixties the New Opera Group was formed, and had staged Let's Make an Opera, at the Rep, and Amahl, Susanna's Secret and Figaro in the Tivoli, before the early death of David Duke,  the driving force, brought the enterprise to an end. It was followed briefly by Opera 66.

From the remnants of those companies, Tayside Opera arose, with this ambitious staging of Don Giovanni as its debut production. The venue was the small stage of the old Training College Hall - a multi-purpose gymnasium, assembly hall and theatre in the College of Education, an impressive Edwardian building in Park Place - now the Scrymgeour Building of the University of Dundee.

The conductor and director were both college staff members, while the set designer was a locally-based design student at the art college. The singers were a mixture of new recruits and experienced performers - Mary Cairns, for instance had, in the fifties, sung at the Gaumont in roles such as Aïda and Marguerite, when the guest principals were professionals imported from the London houses.

An indication of the company's optimism was the inclusion of a single performance at Kirkcaldy - after all, the company had chosen the name Tayside Opera for a reason. There was a good-sized orchestra in the pit, complete with harpsichord continuo and a mandolin, so the enterprise showed a commendable seriousness of purpose.

Cast details are taken from the Courier review.

Performance Cast

Leporello Giovanni's servant

Ian Mortimer

Donna Anna the Commendatore's daughter

Enid High

Don Giovanni a young nobleman

William Dewar

Commendatore an elderly aristocrat

John Underwood

Don Ottavio engaged to Anna

Allan Caird

Donna Elvira a lady from Burgos

Mary Cairns

Zerlina a peasant girl

Rhona Thom

Masetto a peasant, engaged to Zerlina

William Shields

Performance DatesDon Giovanni 1968

Map List

Training College Hall | Dundee

4 Jun, 19.00 5 Jun, 19.00 7 Jun, 19.00 8 Jun, 19.00

Adam Smith Theatre | Kirkcaldy

12 Jun, 19.30

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