Opera Scotland

Ariadne on Naxos 1968Hamburg State Opera

Read more about the opera Ariadne auf Naxos

In 1968, the Edinburgh Festival followed its Stravinsky theme of the previous year by concentrating on two composers, Britten and Schubert. The result was a Festival full of memorable concerts and recitals. Perhaps the operatic side was slightly uncertain. Scottish Opera had recently been exploring Albert Herring (taking it to Florence in May) and now produced Peter Grimes for the first time. The English Opera Group also brought the most recent of Britten's stage works, the three Parables for Church Performance. Schubert's operas have always been seen as a problem area of his output, with stagings extremely rare. Sadly, no full-scale presentation was attempted here, but the Festival did at least mount a memorable concert performance of Alfonso und Estrella.

The visiting company was again from Germany - a third season by the Hamburg State Opera, previously seen in 1952 and 1956. The original plans included the British premiere of Arden Must Die, Alexander Goehr's recent adaptation of the Thomas Heywood tragedy Arden of Faversham, as well as a Scottish premiere for Strauss's Arabella. In the event, due to the notorious technical restrictions imposed by the stage facilities of the King's Theatre, the only venue available for opera, the Strauss was quickly dropped. Though the Goehr was initially announced, along with Fliegende Holländer and Ariadne auf Naxos, by the time booking opened it had been substituted with Elektra - admittedly requiring a large orchestra, but with only one set.

This staging of Ariadne was not considered at the time to be anything special, but what stands out with hindsight is the strength of the Hamburg company at the time. The New York mezzo Tatiana Troyanos was at the start of an illustrious career. Gerhard Unger and Toni Blankenheim were at the end of equally distinguished ones. Most astonishing of all is the fact that Hans Sotin, singing the Dutchman and Orest on other evenings, here performs the brief role of the wig-maker - a true company artist.

Performance DatesAriadne on Naxos 1968

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

30 Aug, 19.00 4 Sep, 19.00 7 Sep, 19.00

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