Opera Scotland

Alcina 1969Ledlanet Nights

Read more about the opera Alcina

This Ledlanet Nights production was an early example of the Handel revival in Scotland, a third work successfully staged in the extreme intimacy of the Ledlanet auditorium.

The hall at Ledlanet 

The playing area was tiny, or as one critic put it, of 'postage-stamp size'.

Here the audience was seated on either side of the stage (east and west). The orchestra was in the entrance hall to the south, and the double staircase to the north provided for extra points of exit and entry.

For this production, the three acts were re-formed into two to allow for a dinner interval in this unique Scottish example of country house opera.

In this compact playing area sets were necessarily simple, a basic throne for Alcina being the only furniture. Costumes were largely Victorian in style, and Alcina's midnight blue would have been just as good for a Queen of Night. 

Performers and performance

George Mully introduced plenty of variety of movement, so the da capo arias never threatened to become tedious. The experienced hand of Peter Gellhorn ensured good co-ordination between singers and players, who were set off to one side and with limited sight of the stage.

The title role of Alcina was taken by the Canadian Josephte Clément - a hugely versatile singer, she generally sang contralto parts from Rossini to Wagner, but also had the soprano register that allowed her to tackle Donna Anna as well as Alcina. She was working with Scottish Opera at the time, as was Pat Hay - whose performance as Morgana included a superb rendering of the difficult coloratura of 'Tornami a vagheggiar' - an aria often pinched in the past by the Alcina.

Lorna Brindley, a dramatic Ruggiero, particularly effective in 'Sta nell'ircana', was a promising young mezzo from the Glyndebourne Chorus.

Sydna Withington, in the contralto part of Bradamante, was also working at Glyndebourne, though she spent most of her career as a member of the chorus at Covent Garden.

Of the shorter roles, Melisso was well taken by John Graham, of Scottish Opera; and that of Oronte by Adrian de Peyer, brother of the clarinettist Gervase, who also worked regularly at the Royal Opera House.

To keep the performance to a reasonable length, the character of the child Oberto was cut at a late stage of rehearsal – perhaps a harsh decision for the redundant soprano concerned, but artistically preferable to hacking at the arias themselves, as was still common practice at the time.

Scottish Ensemble

These Alcina performances marked the first official appearance of the Scottish Baroque Ensemble, led by Leonard Friedman and so named by John Calder.  Now performing as the Scottish Ensemble, the group celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019.

Performance Cast

Bradamante a lady, betrothed to Ruggiero and disguised

Sydna Withington

Melisso tutor to Bradamante

John Lawson Graham

Morgana Alcina's sister and Oronte's lover

Patricia Hay

Alcina an enchantress in love with Ruggiero

Josephte Clément

Ruggiero a knight enslaved to Alcina

Lorna Brindley

Oronte commander of Alcina's forces

Adrian de Peyer

Performance DatesAlcina 1969

Map List

Ledlanet | Kinross-shire

25 Sep, 19.30 27 Sep, 19.30 28 Sep, 19.30 2 Oct, 19.30 4 Oct, 19.30 5 Oct, 19.30

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