Opera Scotland

Otello 1963Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Otello

For Scottish Opera’s second season the number of venues doubled, with the addition of Edinburgh, and there were three programmes instead of two. Following the previous year's Puccini (Butterfly) and Debussy (Pelléas), the pattern was moved even more towards the unusual. A Verdi work might have been expected, but with the formation of the new Scottish Opera Chorus, Otello was chosen. An unusual double-bill of the company's first living composer, Dallapiccola, (Night Flight) and Ravel (L'Heure Espagnole) was certainly stimulating. It was not a surprise for a Mozart opera to be presented. However the choice of Seraglio was still a bold one, avoiding the obvious.

Scottish Opera’s first Verdi opera gave a startling opportunity to the fledgling Scottish Opera Chorus, formed mainly from local Glasgow amateur groups. They duly raised the roof with a vengeance during the opening storm sequence. It also helped to give favourite singers from Sadler’s Wells (Charles Craig, Peter Glossop and Emile Belcourt) the chance to sing parts they had not been able to attempt before.

The staging by Anthony Besch, the first of many for Scottish Opera, was very simply laid out on Ralph Koltai's set of ramps at different levels. The massed chorus entry in the third act was always particularly effective. Money was saved on this occasion, and at the first two revivals, by borrowing the costumes from Covent Garden's production which dated only from a few years earlier.

Lebanese soprano Luisa Bosabalian was not previously known in Britain. She had an attractively creamy soprano and a good stage presence, and fortunately the company was able to bring her back regularly. The previous year's Pelléas, Emile Belcourt, was joined by another Canadian, bass Don Garrard - he was another who would visit often in future years.

The Chorus Master was Leon Lovett, who was himself conducting the Mozart. Listed among the choristers appear several names who would soon become familiar as soloists, including Ann Baird, Joyce McCrindle, Moyra Paterson, John Robertson and John (Lawson) Graham.

Performance Cast

Montano predecessor of Otello in Cyprus

William McCue

Cassio Otello's lieutenant

Emile Belcourt

Iago Otello's ensign

Peter Glossop

Roderigo a Venetian gentleman

Edward Byles

Otello a Moorish general, Venetian Governor of Cyprus

Charles Craig

Desdemona Otello's wife

Luisa Bosabalian

Emilia Iago's wife and Desdemona's companion

Laura Sarti


John Lawson Graham

Lodovico envoy of the Venetian republic

Don Garrard

Performance DatesOtello 1963

Map List

King's Theatre, Glasgow | Glasgow

27 May, 19.00 1 Jun, 19.00

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

3 Jun, 19.00 8 Jun, 19.00

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