Opera Scotland

Bluebeard 1966Sadler's Wells Opera

Read more about the opera Barbe-bleue

The Sadler's Wells company had already toured Scotland in the spring of 1966, but here they were back in the autumn, again for three weeks, starting 19 September. The tour order was reversed - Glasgow, Aberdeen, then Edinburgh. The performance schedule, identical in each city, was Mon Così fan tutte; Tue Thieving Magpie; Wed Madam Butterfly; Thu Samson and Delilah; Fri Bluebeard; Sat mat Bluebeard; Sat eve Madam Butterfly. Rossini's almost unknown piece was therefore given a second viewing within months, and an unknown Offenbach comedy was brought out for good measure.

Bluebeard really was a rarity, and remains far less well-known than the three Offenbach pieces the company had done previously. Its plot is undoubtedly equally quirky, but it doesn't seem quite as mercurially tuneful. Even so, it should be done more, and Gillian Lynne's production was suitably zany, billed under the title Bluebeard and his Six Wives, perhaps so that no-one would go along expecting an evening of Bartók. The work seems to have been revived to mark the centenary of its first performance, and opened at Sadler's Wells on 18 May 1966. It had not been seen in Scotland since the magnetic Hortense Schneider had played Boulotte, the part she created, in 1870.

This cast looks superb on paper, with Emile Belcourt in the title role, John Fryatt as the King and Derek Hammond Stroud also leading the comedy. Marion Grimaldi was more familiar in the West End theatres than in opera, but was an excellent performer in Sandy Wilson's Boyfriend. And David Hillman was equally good at comedy. Julian Moyle here played a speaking part, taken in London by a great comic actor, the lanky and lugubrious Julian Orchard.

Cast details are from programmes in the OperaScotland collection (for Glasgow) and in the Aberdeen City Library.

Performance Cast

Duke Bluebeard

Emile Belcourt

Boulotte a swineherd

Anna Cooper

King Bobèche

John Fryatt

Queen Clementine

Marion Grimaldi

Popolani alchemist employed by Bluebeard

Derek Hammond Stroud

Count Oscar Court Chamberlain

Julian Moyle

Princess Helena disguised as Fleurette

Margaret Eales

Prince Lysander disguised as Florian

David Hillman

Heloise the first wife

Marie Robinson

Rosalind the second wife

Norma Kubel

Isolda the third wife

Ann Baird

Blanche the fourth wife

Jane Whitehead

Leonora the fifth wife

Phyllis Glavin

Performance DatesBluebeard 1966

Map List

Kings Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

23 Sep, 19.00 24 Sep, 14.00

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

30 Sep, 19.30 1 Oct, 14.30

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

7 Oct, 19.30 8 Oct, 14.30

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2017

Site by SiteBuddha