Opera Scotland

Siegfried 1971Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Siegfried

Scottish Opera's tour in Spring 1971 was one of its most extended and elaborate, stretching from 11 March to 12 June. There were two clear phases, the first took in Perth, Aberdeen, Newcastle and Liverpool, with the second embracing Glasgow, Edinburgh and a return to Aberdeen.

The Perth opening included the recent stagings of Magic Flute and Traviata, accompanied by the BBC SSO, with two Britten revivals, Albert Herring and Turn of the Screw. for which the pit was occupied by the Scottish Opera Chamber Ensemble. In Aberdeen the SNO joined up for the revival of the 1967 Rheingold staging, as preparation for the single Ring Cycle announced for December. In Glasgow, Albert Herring dropped out, and the season's two big new productions, Siegfried and Der Rosenkavalier, arrived.

The final instalment of Scottish Opera’s first Ring production opened with five evenings in the spring and had a final showing in December as part of a single performance of the whole cycle.

The SNO were on great form under Gibson, and David Ward gave a wonderfully moving interpretation of the Wanderer. The Danish-American tenor Ticho Parly was a powerful performer, though with a tendency to tire in the last act. Francis Egerton's Mime was beautifully judged, with a fine balance struck between the witty, the pathetic and the repulsive. How odd that he didn't sing the part elsewhere. In the last act, Helga Dernesch gave a beautiful, majestic performance, with her voice in glorious condition (she was alternating Siegfried with performances as the Marschallin).

After the spring season, the company re-assembled in the summer to feature in one of the SNO's two appearances at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. A concert performance was given of Acts 1 and 3. The singers of Alberich, Fafner and Woodbird were therefore not required. The event was very well received, and constituted Scottish Opera's London debut.

In December, the plan was to revive Götterdämmerung for a single performance on the Saturday before the cycle. Berit Lindholm, the current Brünnhilde at Bayreuth, was scheduled for this, with Helga Dernesch to be in the audience to pick up the moves (it being three years since she had made her British debut as Gutrune in the same staging). When Dernesch was unable to perform the cycle (apparently exhausted by the sessions for Solti's Tannhäuser recording in Vienna), Lindholm agreed to return and save the show. She was committed in Stockholm on the Walküre night but picked up the role for the last two evenings of the cycle. She was an excellent actor, slim and athletic. Her voice was completely reliable, with a rapid vibrato unusual in a dramatic soprano.

There was another last-minute cast change, when a replacement was needed for the off-stage voice of the Woodbird in the second act. The New Zealand soprano Alexandra Gordon, the company's resident Queen of Night, was a member of the Opera For All team, singing Lucia, the Fair Maid and Tisbe, but was able to step in with no obvious difficulty.

Performance Cast

Mime a Nibelung, Siegfried's fosterer

Francis Egerton

Siegfried son of Siegmund and Sieglinde

Ticho Parly

Wanderer Wotan in disguise

David Ward (Exc Jun 11)

Victor Godfrey (Jun 11)

Alberich a Nibelung

Raymond Myers

Fafner disguised as a dragon

Simon Estes (May 8, 29, Jun 5)

Norman White (May 15, Jun 11)

Louis Hendrikx (Dec)

Woodbird

Sally Le Sage (Exc Dec)

Alexandra Gordon (Dec)

Erda mother of the Norns and Valkyries

Patricia Purcell

Brünnhilde now a mortal

Helga Dernesch (Exc Dec)

Berit Lindholm (Dec)

Performance DatesSiegfried 1971

Map List

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

8 May, 17.30 15 May, 17.30 16 Dec, 17.30

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

29 May, 17.30 5 Jun, 17.30

His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen | Aberdeen

11 Jun, 17.30

Royal Albert Hall | London

10 Aug, 19.30

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