The first run of this landmark production by Anthony Besch, in stylish designs by John Stoddart, quickly became the stuff of company legend. Alexander Gibson was always an expert at conducting Viennese programmes and everything sounded completely natural. Janet Baker had previously sung Dorabella and Dido with the company, and would return to them both, but these were the only performances of Octavian she gave anywhere. The role fitted her like a glove and the comedy was perfectly judged. The performances were sung in English translation. Helga Dernesch had already sung the Marschallin in German on the continent, but made the effort to restudy it in English just for these seven performances. Concurrently she was performing Brünnhilde in Siegfried as Scottish Opera built up its first Ring.
There were two cast changes during the run. The most important concerned the final two evenings, at Aberdeen in June. The programme insert stated that Michael Langdon, who had never worked with Scottish Opera before, had agreed in March to sing these two nights, on condition that he could perform the familiar German text he had sung in most of the world’s great houses. By June, however, he had succeeded in committing to memory the first act translation. He would return for all future revivals of this production, which were in German, and also sang many other roles with the company.
At one performance, in Edinburgh, Thomas Hemsley was ill. Peter Lyon, his understudy, had been playing the silent role of Leopold. For this one performance, that role was played by Scottish Opera’s young staff producer, David Pountney.
Noel Mangin (Exc Jun 8, 12)
Michael Langdon (Jun 8, 12)
Peter Lyon (Exc Jun 1)
David Pountney (Jun 1)
Thomas Hemsley (Exc Jun 1)
Peter Lyon (Jun 1)
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